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Old 03-10-2015, 06:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
balazsdavid987
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Post The History of Flash Gaming: 2012 -2015

Hi,

you may remember my previous statistics on the online arcade industry, but this time I'm showing you something much more exciting. While my previous post was only a snapshot of the current situation of arcade sites, here I present you some of their history.

INTRODUCTION

Since the beginning of 2012, a search engine for Flash games, GameKB (gamekb.com), has been indexing arcades on a daily basis.


It collects the name, thumbnail, description, and tags of the games uploaded to online arcades and also stores when (which day) and where (which site) they appeared.

Over the last 3 years almost 2.5 million games were indexed from more than 650 different sites. This enormous amount of data provides an excellent opportunity to look back and see what happened to arcade sites between 2012 and 2015 and draw some conclusions about where Flash gaming is heading right now.

Is Flash gaming really dying? Let’s see!

(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with GameKB. The data was obtained through web scraping.)

ANALYSIS

Top games

Which Flash games were the most popular in the last 3 years?

Good games spread virally and got uploaded to many sites. The top 15 most distributed games in each year:


These are all very great games, be sure to have them on your site!

Tags

What are the most popular genres and themes?

Out of the many thousands of different tags, here are the top 100 most used ones:


The stereotypical “girl game” is the most populous category, with genres such as dress-up, doll maker, food & cooking (baking, cake decoration, serving), make-up, makeover (spa, nail polish, hairdresser, beautician), and dating (party, kissing, wedding).

Another vast category is of the games that require some kind of brainwork: puzzles (physics, jigsaw, sudoku), escape games, strategy games (tower defense, management, simulation), classic board/card/word games, match 3, bubble shooter, point-and-click adventures, hidden object, spot-the-difference, memory, educational math & science games.

Further genres, like action and arcade games that involve shooting, fighting and killing and the typical “car games” (driving, racing, parking), and sports as a theme (especially soccer and basketball) are also have a wide appeal among online casual gamers.

The most popular characters are zombies, monsters, robots, aliens, ninjas and (for girl games) pets and all kind of animals, princesses, fairies, celebrities.

Number of games posted

Fresh content is crucial for having returning visitors and arcades aren’t an exception. On average, 4-6 new games are posted to an arcade each day and this is fairly constant in the examined period (wasn’t significantly higher/lower 3 years ago then it is now). The top 15 sites with the most games:


It’s no question who the king of online Flash gaming is! In 2014 alone, Kongregate has added almost 50 daily new games on average!

But does quantity or quality matter when it comes to adding new games to an arcade? As it turns out, there is a week correlation between the number of games posted to a site and its Alexa ranking:


(Please note: To filter out the sites that are no longer actively maintained, only games indexed after Jan 1st, 2014 were counted for this analysis.)

There are some quite popular sites with less than a hundred new games and there are less popular sites even they have posted thousands of new games. For example, the blue dot at the upper right represents Kongregate (~18,000 new games, rank is ~1400), the green one at the lower right is ArmorGames (~300 new games, rank is ~2100), and the purple dot on the upper left stands for AllGamesAllFree (~8,000 new games, rank is ~300,000).

I suspect that the sites with less new games but good ranking are the ones who sponsor the new games (and usually they are very picky about adding games from other sites). The other group is the sites that aggregate new games from multiple sources (via game feeds) and willing to post all kinds of games. If this hypothesis is true, the chart shows that both strategies are equally successful at building a high-traffic arcade.

Day of the week analysis

When, which day of the week, most of the games are posted to the sites?

The data shows that there’s a schedule for posting new games:


When not only the unique titles, but all titles (all sites, all games) are counted, the distribution of the days is more balanced:


The two data series combined in one chart:


Sponsors are more likely to post a new game on Monday, Friday and Saturday: almost half (49.55%) of all new unique titles are posted on these three days.

It perfectly makes sense to release new games on these days as people have more free time on the weekends and many try to escape from the depressing Mondays by playing games. (Don’t say it never happened to you!) :-)

Both sponsors and aggregators are less likely to post a game on the middle of the week. I assume that sponsors hold back their new games for the weekend and by Wednesday aggregators have already posted most of the new games from the previous week.

Games indexed (unique titles)

This is the last, but most exciting point of this post:
Is Flash gaming really dying?
As new Flash games are financed through money from ad revenue, the number of new titles released can be seen as an indicator of the health of Flash gaming. Out of the 2.5 million games indexed by GameKB in the last 3 years, more than 420,000 are unique titles. The following chart shows the distribution of new game titles in respect to time:


GameKB was started in Feb, 2012 and many 10,000s of new games were indexed that were probably released in the previous years (hence the big spikes in the first half of 2012), but later on it stabilizes and the decline in the number of new titles is clearly visible.

A chart that shows yearly data:



(2012: 90,000 – 100,000, 2013: 69,000, 2014: 51,000)

There is a 26.21% decline from 2013 to 2014. It’s too early to make predictions for 2015, but it’s very unlikely that the number of new titles will reach the level of 2014.

(I’ve took two different approaches to estimate the number of unique titles in 2012. First, I got 100k by extrapolating the data from Jul 2012 to Dec 2012 for the entire year. Second, I got 90k by assuming similar decline rate from 2012 to 2013 as it was from 2013 to 2014.)

CONCLUSIONS

Sad, but the golden age of Flash gaming is definitely over. It’s hard to tell when was the peak, but Flash gaming is in on a decline these days with no doubt.

The good news is that there’s no reason to worry because the demand for games that doesn't have to be downloaded and can be played instantly from the browser will always be there. Flash games will certainly stay for a while, but be prepared for the day a browser drops Flash support because others will follow just within a year.

In my opinion, HTML5 is definitely the way to go for arcade webmasters (and for developers), but I don’t expect to see a sudden shift from Flash to HTML5. The transition from Flash to HTML5 has already started, there are already more than a dozen companies specializing in the distribution of HTML5 games and around 10% of all arcades offer HTML5 games as well. Saying that “Flash is dead!” is a bit too early, but it’s no question that HTML5 is rapidly taking over its grounds (ads, audio/video playback, and games of course).

Don't panic if you are a Flash gaming portal publisher, you should really go ahead, adapt the changes, and stay optimistic, because never ever were so many people eager to play games online! Competition is fierce, but friendships are also made! :-)

Stay tuned for more, because a very extensive research is going on HTML5 games / arcades and I will publish some results soon! And again, feel free to share your opinion and suggestions on this one as well!

Thanks for reading!

Last edited by balazsdavid987 : 03-10-2015 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 03-10-2015, 06:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great work again!!!!
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Old 03-10-2015, 07:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Amazing work! Thanks again
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Old 03-10-2015, 07:32 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hello @balazsdavid987,

Many thanks for your work, mate!
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Old 03-10-2015, 08:32 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Its not very often you come along such interesting topics on TA like this one.


Kudos!
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Old 03-10-2015, 09:02 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Excellent review!
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Old 03-10-2015, 09:08 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You nailed it buddy. Good job!
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Old 03-10-2015, 09:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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As always, amazing statistics
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Old 03-10-2015, 09:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Superb. I even thought - why "waste" such an analytical mind on casual gaming
But, nevertheless - superb work. Kudos!
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Old 03-10-2015, 10:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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nice and useful statistics
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