That’s one of the most frequent questions I see asked around in game development forums. I released in May a flash version of my downloadable game Spirited Heart, so thought to share some info about it.
The stats are quite clear (timeframe, 2 months):
gameplays: 60-70k estimate (mochi-ads is 55k, plus a few more thousands in Kongregate, Newgrounds and other portals I submitted my game to)
unique visitors to my site: 12,886
tracked sales: 7 !!
As you can see, the visitors to sales ratio (called also CR, conversion rate) is 0,05%! Well below the standard CR of downloadable demos that is around 1% (actually, for my game it’s 2,6% well above average). If we calculated the people per sale ratio from everyone that played the game, we would get 1 sale every 10.000 players 😀
And I even put lots of “nag stuff” in the game, in several parts there was a hint that certain game functions would be available only in the “Deluxe Version” and not in the free flash demo.
That said, I probably made some mistakes in it: putting too many “hints” that the game was only a “flash demo”, pissed some people off and especially on Kongregate I got very low rating only because of that. Also, the flash market is known to like more male-oriented games (zombies, blood, violence!) so my game was badly targeted also for that.
Still, even if my game was played by 7 milion people (that would be a TOP record!) according to those visits/buy ratio I would have got “only” 700 sales, or translated in money, about $15000. But just so you know, Desktop Tower Defense, one of the most popular flash games of all times, made 15million plays. So getting 7 million would be almost an impossible task unless you have something really UNIQUE.
Based on this, the conclusion would be quite easy: is NOT worth it. However, I know some other devs doing online only games or browser MMO got much better results than me. So is correct to say that making a flash version of your DOWNLOADABLE game is a bad move. But for a online/browser game that could be very different.