Learning from Desktop Tower Defense—and What Its Developer Learned the Hard Way

When Paul Preece launched his Flash game Desktop Tower Defense in 2007 (see Figure 9-3), he was just a Visual Basic programmer with no professional experience in game development. Within three years, he’d become a co-founder of KIXEYE, one of the industry’s most profitable social gaming companies.

CROSSREF You can read more about KIXEYE in Chapter 5, “Facebook Design Lessons from KIXEYE and 5th Planet Games.”

Figure 9-3: Desktop Tower Defense

At peak popularity, the game was earning Preece high four figures a month, primarily through AdSense.

The game became phenomenally popular, played by upwards of 150 million people, but as noted in the beginning of this book, Preece considers it a failure, since it didn’t earn the money it could have had he made some simple tweaks.

Ironically, KIXEYE went on to deploy Desktop Defender, a version of Desktop Tower Defense, on Facebook (see Figure 9-4). It wasn’t very popular, but because it was far better monetized, it earned about as much money as the far more popular original version on the web.

Figure 9-4: Desktop Defender on Facebook


So if Preece could do Desktop Tower Defense over again, what would he do? Read on to find out.

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