Pig-Min did an e-mail interview with Mike Gribbin, who is Community Manager of Kongregate.

Kongregate is one of the important Webgame site, which has Achievement Badges & Collectible Card Game [Kongai].

Korean version of this Interview

User image
Let's jump to the Kongregate through that picture.

1. We all know Kongregate, but we don't know detail about the website & company itself. Please let us know brief history / description about that.

Kongregate was founded in mid 2006 by Jim Greer and his sister Emily.

Before starting Kong, Jim worked as a Technical Director at EA Pogo, one of the most successful casual gaming sites on the web.  Using that experience, he set out to create a community focused site where independent developers and gamers could interact and play together. Of course MMORPGs have had a big influence on us as well.

Kongregate has site features like levels and achievements to make the experience more persistent than your average web game portal, and it seems to work really well!

2. What does 'Kongregate' mean? We could assume the meaning from 'Armor Games' / 'Addicting Games' / 'Crazy Monkey Games', but can't imagine what 'Kongregate' means. Sounds cool, maybe Germany words, but what does it mean?

Kongregate is an intentional misspelling of the word "congregate," because it is a place where gamers can play together. Community and social interaction are the heart of the site, but unfortunatley the domain name for the real spelling wasn't very cheap!

It's okay though, our fans shorten the name to Kong, which I like a lot. Maybe we should have a monkey mascot instead of an ant?

3. People submit Flash Games to Kongregate, and could get some reward / income share / sponsership. In Korea, such model is not so popular (almost none), and Korean gamer / game maker wannabe might be interested to know the detail about that. Could you please let us know how it works? Just make some game & ask you to pay, or some more important things exist?

Just make the games, and if they're good, you will get the money. 

We share up to 50% of our advertising revenue with the developers of every single game on the site.  Of course, some of the games are not very popular, so they do not make much advertising revenue, but the good games make a significant amount of money from this sharing.  Right now, Kongregate is the only large portal that offers this sort of service to the developers.  Other portals simply keep 100% of the revenue from advertising.  We also give away cash prizes every week and month for the highest rated games on the site, you can see the current leaders for the monthly and weekly prizes on our home page. 

On top of these two revenue systems, we are a game sponsor and operate a unique Premium Games program.  Game sponsorship is the most common way for Flash developers to make money.  As a sponsor, we pay developers to place our logo and links to our site somewhere inside of their game. Our Premium Games program is like a super sponsorship where we pay small development teams up to $100,000 to develop large multiplayer games.  Anyone can apply for a sponsorship or to make a premium game. We have no requirements other than having a great game or idea.

4. You might play a lot of them & found what is essential for good Flash Game. Flash Game / Web Game might be different from Downloadable Game, for File Size / Game Depth / Play Time / ... etc. Please share us idea about that.

I used to feel that Flash games were weak and lacked depth, but time has changed things a lot! 

Flash games are becoming very deep, and we are learning that the deeper games are getting better ratings than the old style of time waster games. The most popular games on Kongregate are deep RPGs like Sonny, and games with levels, classes, and campaign maps like Protector or Monster's Den. 

In the future I think we will see many more MMORPG and online games in the Flash arena.  This is just the beginning.

5. Kongregate has different aspect for a Flash Game Site, about 'Badge' & 'Achivement'. 'Achivement' is used for XBOX LIVE & Steam, which gained good attention, but nobody used it for Flash Game Site before Kongregate. How come to decide to use it? And does it really affect gamers, come to Kongregate more often?

Achievements are actually something that we borrowed from Jim's old job at Pogo. Achievements had existed on Pogo long before XBox Live or Steam had ever thought about them. and Jim knew that they were successful over there.  Sure enough, they've been successful for Kongregate as well. Badges are one of the reasons that we hear over and over again for why players prefer Kongregate over our competitors. Gamers love them :)

Of course we have other things to earn as well aside from badges, like cards for Kongai. Normal badges and Kongai cards are both earned by playing games on our site, but unlike normal badges, the Kongai cards can be used to play our brand new collectible card game after you win them.

6. [Kongai] could be another revolution of Webgame & even Video Game industry. People must play several games to earn Cards for [Kongai], and it could be even described as 'Meta-Game'. How come to think that concept at first, and what you expect from [Kongai] & how big result you get from that?
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure where the idea for Kongai came from.  The game itself was designed by David Sirlin, a master of Street Fighter, and well known designer of competitive games, but the concept of having a meta-game just seems natural for a site like Kongregate.  Kongai makes Kongregate more than just a portal with a bunch of free games, it ties the entire site together into a single experience.  It is something revolutionary in web gaming. Maybe in all gaming!

We expect Kongai to help keep players involved in the website, and tie all of their progression so far into a great looking competitive card game. So far the result has been fantastic, and players are loving it. We're even having new players come to the site just to play Kongai, which is great!

7. Please recommend 5 Good games & the reason why.

In web gaming we can see 5 good games in one week, but I don't only want to talk about web games, so I will only list three great new web games and two of my favorite non-web games.

Intrusion, Protector: Reclaiming the Throne, and Pandemic 2 are all really great and came out within the last month. 

I really loved Intrusion the most, it's a shooter similar to Metal Slug, and has some really innovative levels and bosses toward the end. The beginning is a little bit slow, but if you survive the first level you'll fall in love. 

Protector: Reclaiming the Throne is the sequel to one of the best tower defense games ever made.  Instead of placing towers to kill creeps like most tower defense games, it lets you place warriors and mages who level up and gain skills as you progress through the campaign map. 

The last game, Pandemic 2, is about destroying the human race as quickly as possible. Seriously :)

I used to be a big FPS game player. Recently I've played Team Fortress 2 the most, even sometimes playing with our community members from Kongregate. We have a Steam group together. When I'm in the mood for a console game though, it would be Smash Brothers: Brawl with my friends.

8. Did you try some Korean games, or even heard or experienced about them? If so, please share your thoughts about that.

Korean games have been a big influence on me as a gamer and as someone who works in a game industry. 

My first Korean game was Lineage 2, and it really introduced me to the concept of Korean gaming.  Since then, I've played many games like Kart Rider, RF Online, Maple Story, Ragnarok, and many more. 

I have learned a lot about game business through the Korean model.  In the West, it is still very uncommon to sell virtual items in games in the way that most Korean games do.  We call that business microtransactions, but not many companies have attempted it yet.  We know it has been successful in Korea, and at Kongregate we hope it can be successful for our premium web games as well.

Oh, and I just saw NCSoft's trailer for "Blade and Soul" today. Wow!

9. Please leave some message for Pig-Min readers.

If you have ever wanted to make games, but do not know where to start or how to make money from it -- look into Flash games.

Right now you are seeing the beginning of a new industry of web games.  It is entirely independent, and very exciting.  Anyone can make the next big hit, and we have no idea what it will look like or who it will be made by. 

It is rare to see an opportunity as great as this where anyone can succeed.  Go for it :)

Korean version of this Interview
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