Press: June 22, 2007
A new Adobe Case Study profiles Gene Endrody, who
pulled off the nearly unthinkable when he created a successful MMO all by
himself. MaidMarian.com attracts more than 1.3 million unique visitors a month,
with as many as 4,000 players logged into the multiplayer games at any given
moment. The majority of visitors are spending time in Sherwood Dungeon, a free,
browser-based MMO that Enrody uses to test new ideas and techniques.
Since Adobe is the one doing the case study, there's a whole lot of "man, Adobe
products sure are awesome!" in it, but it's still an interesting and encouraging
read for anyone who's ever dreamed of creating their own game.
Press: June 22, 2007
You may not have heard of Maid Marian Entertainment, but that doesn't mean it's
not a wildly successful MMOG studio.
Adobe Showcase has just published a case study about the boutique MMOGs
developed by Gene Endrody at his one man studio, Maid Marian Entertainment.
Independent game developer Gene Endrody, a likely inspiration to solo
programmers everywhere, figuratively and literally quit his day job and, against
all odds, hit the jackpot in the massive multiplayer online gaming (MMOG) space.
... MaidMarian.com attracts over 1.3 million unique visitors a month with up to
4,000 simultaneous players at a time logged into the multiplayer games.
Using Maya, Photoshop and Director, he created a free MMOG, which runs on
four servers and delivers 10 million ad impressions a month. Best of all,
there's no client download, no complicated configuration settings, just instant
access to the game.
Allen Varney mentioned Endrody and Maid Marian in his article "Boutique MMOGs"
in The Escapist issue 75 (also check out Allen's companion The Escapist Daily
post, "Your own MMOG?").
Maid Marian is a stellar example of the boutique approach to development.
Endrody started small, contained costs, launched without a huge media fanfare
and constantly makes small improvements and adjustments to the game over time.
It's highly likely we will see more and more independent studios taking this
approach over the coming years.
Press: June 24, 2007
Adobe has a piece up about Sherwood RPG, a 3d MMO that runs in Shockwave (a web
browser extension if you�re not familiar with it). Sherwood garners 1.4 million
unique visitors a month, is completely free, and is ad-supported. It also takes
about 30 seconds from clicking �Play Now� to getting into the play experience,
if you have Shockwave installed (I have heard Shockwave has about 55%
penetration in the US market).
I love Sherwood. I don�t really play it beyond checking out what Gene Endrody,
its creator and sole developer, is up to but I was impressed enough by the way
it operates that I had planned to talk about it during my talk at GDC this year.
(I had to cut the segment about Sherwood due to time constraints unfortunately.)
Two things stand out from Sherwood for me. First is the sheer economy of design
and technology. Granted, if you don�t have Shockwave installed, the start-up
process is a little more annoying but Shockwave is a very easy install all
things considered. Once you start up, you�re in the world incredibly quickly.
Geometry is cheap and the models in Sherwood are decent in those terms. The
textures are not as good, but that�s a trade-off that has likely proven well
worth it for Gene in terms of keeping download time to an absolute minimum. No
100 meg installs here. The gameplay is pretty basic and the world is not
particularly rich with content but it�s completely free and never, in any way,
asks for money from its users.
In fact, that�s the most impressive thing about it to me, and the second thing
that stands out. It�s completely ad-supported. The reason I had included
Sherwood in my GDC talk was because Sherwood�s revenue generation model is so
simply efficient. Virtually all of the ads that run on maidmarian.com, the
umbrella site that Gene has Sherwood and a few other of his games under, are for
games that directly compete with Sherwood for its audience�s attention.
Heck, the front page of his site runs ads for two main games, and only one of
them is his own. Gene has chosen to look at his game and decide, effectively,
that he�s better off sending people who are pre-qualified as interested in MMOs
to competing MMOs than he is at trying to directly monetize his players. He�s
approached Sherwood entirely this way, and encourages other sites, I believe, to
run Sherwood as their own, as long as they include his Google ads in the frame
Sherwood is running in.
It�s an interesting strategy that�s clearly working for Gene, though I think at
some point he�s going to polish his games to the extent that it�s worth more to
get players to pay him directly than it is to direct players to other people
whom the players will pay instead. Clearly, running ads isn�t some sort of
innovative strategy, but yet there�s something about the specific way that
Sherwood runs ads (as a funnel to games normally considered competing) that I
don�t see done very often, if at all. If Gene looks for funding, investors take
note. Of course, if I were Gene, I think I�d try to avoid that and grow
organically as he�s done thus far.
Press: February 26, 2008
6. Consider less traditional monetization methods
There could be more efficient ways to monetize your game other than the
traditional means. A game designed to be played for free could still be
monetized in a variety of different ways. Advertising, micropayments, virtual
item sales or even sell your game while it's still in development.
Similar to how the advent of Google�s AdWords revolutionized monetizing content
on the web, technology is providing alternate ways to make money other than the
traditional fixed-price for a box of goods model.
One example is a website run by Gene Endrody, MaidMarian.com. He makes
multiplayer 3d games using Shockwave that players can access directly in their
browser. Instead of charging players directly to play the games, they are made
free to play without any restrictions.
By removing almost all barriers to playing his games, MaidMarian.com attracts
1.5 million unique visitors a month, and up to 4,000 concurrent users, which
generates a comfortable amount of revenue solely through advertisements on the
By the time Gene left his role as a technical art director at Radical
Entertainment to focus full time on MaidMarian.com, he was already earning more
than his day job by attracting visitors to roam through his virtual worlds.