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How to make up to 30,000 USD from a HTML5 game

By on August 20, 2014
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This is a guest post from Alexander Krug of Softgames


Consdiering the massive amount of available apps, and the minimal impact achieved by most new releases, it’s clear that the AppStores are today a saturated market. Climbing to the US top charts of “free games” requires over 50,000 daily downloads. Not surprisingly, more than 99 % of all apps don’t even come close to this. If they do manage to do so, it is usually a mixture of viral insanity and luck – and unfortunately, that’s something you cannot plan for.

What developers can do to influence the amount of daily installs, is to invest in marketing: paying for each installation. Nonetheless, the reality is the increasing costs per install while the average revenue per user is declining or staying at the same level. This gap between the cost of acquisition and the revenue per user is widening from month to month. Managing this risk requires a very experienced marketing team and very deep pockets – which indie developers in most cases do not have as the majority earns less than 500 USD per month with each app.

On the contrary the open web has just started to transform from a flash occupied desktop environment to an open cross platform future benefiting from the rising HTML5 technology.

Instead of competing with hundred thousands of native developers and millions of apps there are only a few hundred game studios and Indies organized in small communities who are sharing the juicy cake of HTML5 game development today.

Taking a closer look at the HTML5 games market several differences appear compared to the native AppStore business:
Unlike in the AppStore publishers are actively looking & approaching developers to satisfy the demand of their audiences for high quality HTML5 games. E.g. SOFTGAMES – the world’s largest HTML5 games platform – craving for a broad set of great casual games is immense as it´s currently releasing one new cross platform game per work day. Compared to the AppStore with hundred thousands of apps it´s some kind of “El Dorado” for developers to generate relevant business.

Casual games are dominating right now which bring a large benefit to developer’s to immediately start with simple well-polished projects and expand from there. Instead of investing large amounts of resources on a long term basis, HTML5 technology allows to realize well designed games within a month or two. Games can be sold to publishers like SOFTGAMES as exclusive or non-exclusive licenses and generate up to $30,000 USD, if sold exclusively. That’s more than most self-published apps generate within the whole lifecycle!

Compared with the many clones and app look a likes native developers are facing, the HTML5 games market offers large beneficial opportunities. As for SOFTGAMES portfolio with over 250 titles for example popular titles such as Mahjong, Solitaire or Zuma type of games are currently not present yet – and highly demanded. Fast moving developers can benefit from these market game gaps which are basically nonexistent anymore in the AppStores.

The main revenue income for HTML5 games are in-game advertisements today. The freemium model is not existent, due to low payment aggregator payouts and a missing global payment infrastructure. However it´s not a disadvantage to developers as they can quickly develop a game once, sell it and move on to make even better titles. This way there is no need to allocate large resources after a release to optimize, maintain and update a game without any guarantee of success.

However, before jumping into HTML5 development there are a few things to consider in terms of limitations which developers can run across during the development of HTML5 cross-platform games:

  1. It can be challenging for beginners to code a HTML5 game which works great on all platforms. Therefore testing, optimizing and learning is a key aspect to achieve the slogan “One code, multiple devices”. Further it might be difficult for starters to test the games on the huge variety of HTML5 supported devices as e.g. each operating system or even version can behave differently or feature new performance tweaks. Setting a focus and expanding from project to project is the right way to avoid too big difficulties.
  2. Games need to be compatible with various control schemes as your users can play them with e.g. a mouse and keyboard, a Smart TV Controller or their iPhone. In addition there is a big difference in screen resolutions which may cause to not display all games elements properly or conveniently. Smart planning is required to avoid these frustration potential, since it will otherwise ruin the success of your games.
  3. Particularly in mobile browsers – in which most of HTML5 games usually run – the support of Audio has been lagging behind causing browser crashes, long loading times or game lags. Fortunately some major improvements have been made already to increase the basic audio support within HTML5 games. However compared to native games this feature is still not complete – therefore developers should rather use basic sound library’s instead of extensive audio fireworks to avoid any pitfalls.

How can developers benefit from HTML5?

Today there are two present business models for developers: Either they sell developed games to publishers like SOFTGAMES via exclusive or non-exclusive sponsorships or they agree on a revenue share on the generated in-game advertisement revenues. Non-exclusive sponsorships can be sold multiple times to different publishers and e.g. SOFTGAMES pays between $500 to $5000 for a non-exclusive game. Developers can generate ten thousand of dollars with a high quality HTML5 game developed within a few weeks. This is predictable success!

HTML5 should be considered as a great alternative to native development: Instead of hoping for the next big hit due to luck, developers can effectively schedule their next games and income due to the huge demand on the publisher site for high quality casual games made in HTML5. SOFTGAMES as a pioneer of HTML5 gaming with over 10 years of mobile experience decided already 3 years ago to fully focus on its HTML5 games platform. Developers should join the gold rush as well – before it’s too late!

About Alexander Krug

Alexander Krug is CEO of SOFTGAMES, which operates the world's largest HTML5 games platform with 250+ games connected and millions of monthly unique users. SOFTGAMES helps its partners (apps, portals, carriers) to monetize and engage their users with free mobile HTML5 games. For HTML5 game developers SOFTGAMES offers sponsorships and global distribution at scale through own portals and a partner network.