How to Get Your Casual Game to Major Portals

Casual game makers ask:


How can I get my game to [name of the big portal here]? How to get them to respond?

You need to (1) have a great game that’s suitable for portals and (2) contact them (get them to response). You might not always get lucky, but after you have contacted portals you might have a better clue on how to improve your game to get to the portals.

Here’s an example of email we received when we introduced one game to a portal:

Unfortunately, our review team has decided to pass on distribution of the game at this time. It was felt that the gameplay required too much manipulation for our audience (aged 30-60, over half female), who are used to games with a higher click-to-reward ratio. We reviewed a similar game a few months ago, and unfortunately, the same reaction occured. Our audience is a savvy one, but as these games are generally just a fun distraction for them, they have a low tolerance for games that take too many steps to accomplish moving a game piece or creating a match, etc.

The best examples of the type of gameplay our audience resonates with can be found via the link to our weekly top ten seller list.

We got rejected, but this helped us to improve the game – and to try get it to portals on another time. As you can see: they have a guideline on what kind of games they want to see and they recommend checking the weekly top ten sellers. Every major portal has the top ten bestseller list – download the demos and check the design elements in their games. There’s no need to copy the games, but you can use ideas from other games to make your game successful.


What are game portals? Are they different from publishers?

The very short answer would be: Game portals are basically big game sites that can get enormous traffic – even millions of players each month to visit their site. Portals take your game (if it’s good enough), and sell it through their website. Portals don’t sell through other portals. Game publishers on the other hand can get your game, and present it to different distribution channels: portals, retailers, affiliates etc.


What major portals there are?

Check out these portal lists: indiegamer.com or logler.com. Some of the biggest game portals are: Big Fish Games, MSN Gaming Zone, Real Arcade and Yahoo Games

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. @Ron: excellent question, that requires a longer answer – which I’ve just written. It’ll be online tomorrow morning. Thanks for the question.

    Btw – it would be nice to see your game, drop here the URL of your site so people can check it out. Good luck with it.

  2. Hi,

    My company is going online with a 3D Billiard Game. It is very realistic with extreme phsyics, almost as if you are playin in real life.

    We are begining the marketing campaign soon, but do not have too much money to invest. Are there any ideas you can give me on how to bring players to my site?

  3. Big topic hidden here. We’re all game producers here, and we most probably all got into it because we love games. We’ve all played thousands of games and have probably been doing so for tens of years… Therefore you have to make it very clear to yourself; are you producing a game for yourself, or are you producing it for a particular audience (i.e., those who frequent portal sites).

    To those of us who’ve played every game since pong, a bubble popper seems like the height of inanity. To a casual game audience, who are generally looking for 10 minute diversions, that kind of mindless and low-energy thinking is exactly what appeals. They want something to pick up and play and forget about without having to learn a whole load of complicated game mechanics. That’s what the owners of casual game portal sites understand, and that’s what drives them to this kind of thinking.

    It’s a hard one to reconcile. If you want the pure satisfaction of creating a game you love to play, then by all means develop whatever you desire. However, if your goal is to establish a business to sustain you, you need to take these considerations into account… the game idea that establishes your business might not be one that you personally want to play.

  4. The “Click to reward ratio” sounds familiar here. Whenever Ive sent games to portals thats normally what i get back Im sure a lot of their games dont have this though.

    Getting in with portals is not the way for everyone. I consider it a business strategy which you should think about before you even decide what type of game you’re going to do next.

    Just because a game isnt portal material doesnt mean it wont do well, the usual examples here are cliffski’s democracy or starscape. But you didnt need me to tell you that I guess :P

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