'I sold a 16x16 pixel image for $50' - Flash dev

'I sold a 16x16 pixel image for $50' - Flash dev

By Rob Crossley in San Francisco

February 28th 2011 at 6:59AM

Flash Gaming Summit 2011: Microtransactions 'are no longer micro', says Everybody Edits creator

Modern-day microtransactions are not simply small payment deals, and can be as expensive as fully-priced triple-A games, a successful game entrepreneur has said.

Chris Benjaminsen revealed today he is making around $10,000 per month from his breakthrough Flash game, Everybody Edits, due to microtransactions costing as much as $50 each.

And, speaking at a Flash Gaming Summit lecture, he explains the journey of Everybody Edits from concept to fortune.

The free-to-play game has such a loyal fan base that people are paying as much as $50 for a single 16x16px avatar, Benjaminsen explained.

“There’s a misconception that microtransactions that they are still thought of as small transactions. That’s simply not true,” he said. “People spend $10, $20 and more on microtransactions”.

Benjaminsen’s comments come as the social game business continues to stagger the old guard of brick and mortar games retail. Companies widely thought to have cracked the free-to-play Facebook games market, such as Zynga, are now valued in multiples of billions of dollars.

Everybody Edits, in the spirit of Minecraft, is an in-browser title that lets players both edit and play around in an evolving, crowd-built game world. Benjaminsen has always allowed the game to be free, but in the last four months has experimented with various pay models.

“I used MafiaWars as my [final] model,” he said, adding that the game still today has both a free currency and a pay currency.

Players can either play for points to buy custom items, or they can buy them outright.

“One dollar roughly equals one day’s play,” Benjaminsen said.

The custom items in question are, in fact, Smileys, which in Everybody Edits are used as player avatars. New Smileys sell for $2, or $5, or $10 and more.

“And the first response [from the community] we got was people saying ‘this is great, we want more’. I was just testing really, this was an experiment.”

He said he then built another Smiley, dubbed the ‘Big spender’, which was put on sale for $50.

“We sold seven in the first hour,” Benjaminsen revealed.

“That’s a 16x16 pixel Smiley I sold for $50.”

On the first day of microtransaction deals, Everybody Edits made $1,152, Benjaminsen revealed. Eventually it grew into a game that is said to make around $10,000 per month.

Key to the game’s success is how it allows people to play together, Benjaminsen added. He added that a multi-player feature amplifies the gamer’s desire to build an in-game identity.

“I personally believe that’s why I sold a $50 Smiley, because people could show it off to each other,” he added.

“People need to have an identity in a game, people need something in there to feel unique and be special.”

Benjaminsen is the co-founder of Player.io, a tools and services company that aims to help others build successful web games.