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Are there alternative/additional solutions to earn from HTML5 games?
by Przemyslaw Szczepaniak on 03/19/13 01:35:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Monetization of mobile HTML5 games - this is by far most important and vast topic discussed by many web gaming developers since the HTML5 mobile games showed on market. Recently I wrote an article which pointed out the most common, known, and accepted monetization solutions.  Much in the same way, other developers, and publishers were describing their own point of view. Here I refer to known entries by Richard Davey of Photonstorm or Ben Chong of MarketJS. Despite the potential, and higher effort, there are still not enough solutions to give developers peace of mind about future of their business, and games monetization. Many times I have mentioned the lack of market awareness which causes low interest of big companies into investing more resources and support into HTML5 gamingas there is still a lack of safe space to distribute and monetize games for many developers.

Are there any other ideas?

We know well of monetization opportunities of most known publishers. Every developer who has some experience, and was researching the market, knows that only a handful of publishers can really bring potentially safe revenues. Games rental, subscription revenues, advertisements, games licensing or freemium are common solutions. But, are those all possibilities? Let me try to fill up the knowledge we have already with couple solutions that may in my belief give more potential to HTML5 games monetization. We don't really need to limit ourselves to most known/'tried and tested' ways - we should seek, and experiment IMHO.

Your knowledge and skills from game development are your precious treasure.

I noticed that many developers use pre-made engines such as CooconJSImpact, and many others. From our point of view, we prefer to use own, custom code. Why? No limits, no additional costs, except maybe that we may spend more time on coding. But, thanks to that we can always find new and cool ways to solve problems or find new ways for the game development.  Having your own libraries can be a really good way to monetize part of your knowledge. The libraries you create could be also licensed to others, same as game engines are don't you think? This is actually your work, your effort, and experience that can be also used by others. Who knows, maybe your skills are a perfect solution (or a quicker way to achieve the same) for those developers who cannot solve their coding issues? In a funny, and smart way you may create a mini shop with "Coding solutions for your HTML5 games" - just like the IAP shop in freemium games. That's just imagination working, but do we need to limit ourselves?

Moreover using knowledge you gained on coding your own games, can be also used in getting a client work. This solution requires a vast number of contacts, and a higher experience in a field of development. But overall this is a perfect way to fill your need for more resources to go on. You may produce new innovative code, get more experience while preparing a game for a client. You are always gaining on that!

There is one more way you might consider profitable from a point of monetizing your skills. If you think your skills of game development are high enough to easily compete with others, search for game developers contests! Actually this is really good idea because of one reason: being a winner of such contest can bring you more money than you would get sometimes in a year or two of licensing/advertising /renting your games. But, there are two disadvantages1. there aren't many contests; and 2. most of them strictly forbid developers to enter with a game  already released officially.

Let's go back to revenue shares for a moment...

Here we know that we can share profits with publisher basing on in-app-purchases, advertisements or subscriptions. Is that all we can do? Actually no. The creativity of publishers, and cross-platform possibilities of HTML5 games brings another interesting way to earn gaming revenues. Recently I had an opportunity to have a conversation with Rob Smith, Legal and Business Affairs Manager at Odobo. During a chat, I learned that gambling based revenues may be also be a lucrative ways of income, and a great opportunity for developers to use theirs skills in completely new environment, far different from closed world of native apps, and social networks. "... the regulated online gaming industry alone is worth around $35bn today and the player values are significantly higher than those available to the social or casual gaming industry (some research journals place this well in excess of $100 average per user) (...) yet the regulated gaming sector has traditionally held a number of barriers of entry to the wider development community. Odobo's model for example removes this limitation by offering developers a certified server-side technology stack that allows developers who are new to this sector the foundations to build creative and innovative regulated games, without having to be experts on certification. This is complimented by a platform that empowers developers by removing the need for developers to manage credit control, business development and legal resource, as Odobo as the platform holder provides them with the established downstream channel. We want developers to create great games and push boundaries of innovation and yet it's harder for a developer to warrant this investment if they are continually finding their time is spent on corporate support services". This actually brings not only a new opportunity to earn money on Black Jack or Slot Machine games revenues, but also creates a new, and independent market for developers. "... it offers developers not just a standard licence royalty but equally the ability to send their own social game players to the Odobo games on Odobo Play and gain affiliate revenue on-top of the standard game licensing royalties". IMHO this may not only be a good alternative, but also can make live of developers easier. I believe there are two directions of this idea: going the same way as FGL did for flash games, and bring a network based only on HTML5 games, with full support to them.

Conclusions.

As we can see not only the developers want to find out new solutions for HTML5 monetization. We need to focus on a creative side of our businesses. Trying to find new solutions for monetization keeps us active in searching, and brings more ideas. Researches proves that the standard ways to monetize HTML5 games aren't the only way. There are more and more opportunities coming soon I believe and more enablers for developers to reach greater returns for their games. I think that I may fill up the knowledge shown here with more cool, and profitable solutions soon.


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Comments


Robert Williamson
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Had a quick question about how this works? My understanding is that HTML5 is just a different "platform" so to speak. I still don't see why it would be terribly difficult to monetize games (aside from typical user base issues).

Is there a lack of advertising/micrtransaction API's that prevent devs from monetizing? Can someone help me understand this better? Thanks!

Przemyslaw Szczepaniak
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HTML5 is web based - that allows you to play one game with same code on multiple devices and systems which have browsers installed. For example you may play one game at the same time with your friends who have iPad, iPhone, SmartTV, PC, console, or Android based smartphone. For example iPhone doesn't have flash installed - so imagine how great advantage this technology has (it is claimed as Flash successor). Games made in HTML5 don't require plugins, they don't require downloads, or updates (everything is done on server side). You may have fun anywhere you like. There is one huge limit - performance of devices,but it changes rapidly since start of HTML5 gaming over two years ago. There are more information which won't fit in one comment :) As for the monetization: the biggest issue is that it is still niche - there is still lack of awareness of market and huge companies to support HTML5 gaming. Most of market is taken by native gaming, and web based gaming doesn't get enough promotion. Of course more and more publishers are showing, but the scale isn't so huge to bring astronomic numbers. We keen on working to make it more accessible to more players. If the big companies would support developers, maybe it would change and grow faster.

David M
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I'm all for constructive ideas, but this is a poorly considered article and not worthy of a GS feature.

1. Putting all your focus on one technology for games makes very little business sense. Find the best tool for the game. You don't see successful game studios on a jihad for this or that tool. It's all about the quality of the game. There are a total of zero successful game studios to my knowledge that have bet their existence on HTML5. Startups and venture funded experiments with HTML5 are not the same thing as successful studios and popular and profitable games. Don't get them confused.

2. Monetizing HTML5 is extremely difficult, and there are no magic bullets to solve that problem. Customers have voted with their feet, and happily spend money on mobile, Steam, console and Facebook games. The open nature of HTML5 is part of the problem here - it's twenty years and there is still no microtransaction system for the open web, so I'm skeptical this will be solved any time soon. Again, there are close to zero profitable HTML5 games out there today on the open Web.

3. Selling HTML5 game technology as a business model is probably the single worst idea in this entire article. The games industry is littered with the corpses of a hundred companies that tried to survive on selling middleware, and that was in markets with a proven business model. Historically it's a lousy business, and arguably only three companies have been successful in the last decade (Unity, Epic and Havok). An HTML5 company selling middleware would have the trifecta of zero profitable studios using the technology, building an unproven technology for a tiny market and added competition from open source. You already stated in your intro that you don't prefer to use other peoples tech, but then you turn around and propose it as a business model?

The only possible "business model" here is raising venture capital and living it up for a couple of years while you spend it. Unfortunately that horse bolted several years ago.

Likewise, game contests and work for hire are also terrible ideas for running a studio.

4. The solution for all of these problems is gambling? It's arguable that's not even the same industry as video games.

Przemyslaw Szczepaniak
profile image
Dear David,

I don't decide which article on Gamasutra is shown as "Featured" - my article is a developer's look at a problem. I wonder here which way would be possibly good as an alternative - I don't put a statement "this is the best solution so everyone must do it, because I say so". No, every developer will find his way - these are the ideas, and you don't need to use them - simple as that. In the end I leave it open for further discussion.

1. I'm sorry, but you are wrong here, there are games and studios who make great games, and they are succesful with it. For more information please check for example:http://www.slideshare.net/leonidbogolubov/html5-games-ecosystem - especially page 11 is for your consideration. Also please have a deeper research over some companies which already made some great HTML5 games.

2. It is difficult, but not impossible, and microtransactions aren't the only solution, but I can tell you that this model works for some HTML5 developers I know :) I wouldn't think in huge numbers like you do, HTML5 gaming is niche - because we have only around 1000 HTML5 mobile games on the market (maybe more now,since Boostermedia's report is from January).

3. I don't understand the problem here. That's one of the solutions you may use if you like to experiment. It's not claimed as a BASE for company business. You may build games, and use you knowledge and libraries as an additional, experimental way to earn. Whether you like or not using someone's technology (engines), doesn't have anything to do with sharing your solutions with others (they may as well not use it). It is clearly stated "you can", "you may", "try smart, funny way".

4. I didn't claim that gambling HTML5 games are solution for "ALL" problems. Once again I'm proposing "ONE" of the solutions that may be a good way to rise up revenues. And here, once again I'm writing that I have a proposition that may work out, and we can try it out. Additionally please check the web for gambling games, because I'm sure that they exist in video games industry pretty long.

Przemyslaw Szczepaniak
profile image
Dear David,

I don't decide which article on Gamasutra is shown as "Featured" - my article is a developer's look at a problem. I wonder here which way would be possibly good as an alternative - I don't put a statement "this is the best solution so everyone must do it, because I say so". No, every developer will find his way - these are the ideas, and you don't need to use them - simple as that. In the end I leave it open for further discussion.

1. I'm sorry, but you are wrong here, there are games and studios who make great games, and they are succesful with it. For more information please check for example:http://www.slideshare.net/leonidbogolubov/html5-games-ecosystem - especially page 11 is for your consideration. Also please have a deeper research over some companies which already made some great HTML5 games.

2. It is difficult, but not impossible, and microtransactions aren't the only solution, but I can tell you that this model works for some HTML5 developers I know :) I wouldn't think in huge numbers like you do, HTML5 gaming is niche - because we have only around 1000 HTML5 mobile games on the market (maybe more now,since Boostermedia's report is from January).

3. I don't understand the problem here. That's one of the solutions you may use if you like to experiment. It's not claimed as a BASE for company business. You may build games, and use you knowledge and libraries as an additional, experimental way to earn. Whether you like or not using someone's technology (engines), doesn't have anything to do with sharing your solutions with others (they may as well not use it). It is clearly stated "you can", "you may", "try smart, funny way".

4. I didn't claim that gambling HTML5 games are solution for "ALL" problems. Once again I'm proposing "ONE" of the solutions that may be a good way to rise up revenues. And here, once again I'm writing that I have a proposition that may work out, and we can try it out. Additionally please check the web for gambling games, because I'm sure that they exist in video games industry pretty long.


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