Jadegames

Making money with HTML5 in 2016

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Hi,

As the title states, I wanted to hear from developers who make HTML5 games and how much they earn from their work. I am aware of html5 devs like @True Valhalla & @devMidgard who provide monthly income reports which have been really enlightening, but the pragmatic part of my brain says there are always exceptions, for every rich dev like @True Valhalla there are thousands struggling to make ends meet and have 2nd jobs to get by. 

I am using GameMaker and in the middle of working on a HTML5 mobile game that I really like the look of and hope to me able to take to game portals and really get my name and brand out there, with the eventual long term goal of making a living writing HTML5 games but I suppose I need to know if such a dream is feasible if you work hard enough or is it more that I've missed the boat and even if I made 10 good quality HTML5 games it's unlikely to be enough sustain myself long term. 

Thanks

 

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HI,

I m also a GameMaker user and hobbyist HTML5 game developer, currently struggling but not giving my 100% in it, because i m a student, i maybe give this the main preference of my life in future.
As u have said above, there is nothing like missing the boat, i think that the market is still in its form and in the search of good quality HTML5 games.

If you have the eager to work hard and you have the talent, then you can do this, just work hard and hard.

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@WiLD11 that's certainly encouraging! Working hard is no problem for me! In order to set expectations, is the amount you earn enough to support a young family? That will be my reality in a couple of years or so.

I live in the UK and I currently work as a 2nd/3rd line support engineer and that salary allows for a comfortable lifestyle, it's just not what I want to do till I retire!

@Kartikey I am currently just one guy at the moment but for GameMaker I spend a long time building templates to minimise duplicating work in the future (landscape/portrait support, audio working on mobile & desktop, etc.) 

I built Pong just to see how GameMaker worked and now am using those skills onto a game I actually want to sell just to see what kind of return I can get. 

I want to take this venture seriously: has anyone done any market research on the kinds of games that the portals are looking for? Does it follow any trends? 

 

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This market is incredibly accessible compared to others. If you're going to make it in any market, it's this one. While it's no longer as beginner-friendly as it was between 2012-2015, any moderately experienced developer with the right work ethic and the right business strategy can undoubtedly be successful.

Of course, not everyone takes the right approach...but I would estimate that the ratio of successful devs to unsuccessful devs is far better than the "one in a thousand" ratio you suggested. There are plenty of successful developers. Most of them just aren't as vocal as me and the few others who openly talk about business.

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I do wish more developers would talk more about their average earnings, but on the other hand, in most industries it's normal to not talk about the financial side of things. If HTML5 developers were more open about the average amounts they were receiving per game, we, as a collective, could determine the market value for the games we have written. @True Valhalla have you ever been asked to not reveal how much you were paid when you sell your games to a games portal?

Looking at the numbers, the HTML5 market looks more accessible to a newbie like myself than, say the Apple App/Google Play store. I recently saw this Vimeo video from 4 years ago https://vimeo.com/53698801, @photonstorm are these numbers still accurate today? 

I'm building a HTML5 game at the moment, I'm going to release it, hopefully before the end of November and attempt to send it to a slew of games portals and see what happens. I think if I can made about £500 for a single game I will seriously consider doing this as a full time career and dedicate more time to making it. If I get considerably less I'll know that either the quality of my games or the market can't support my financial situation full time and will...I guess look at other options. 

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I started working seriously as a game developer about two years ago (I am 21 now). And it's only now that I can start licensing my games; Why is that? Well, it took me some time to know what the market is currently demanding, build up a small but loyal contact list, and start being productive. Two years ago I only made money out of Freelance Contracts. Making games that other people wanted to make, but didn't have the knowledge and/or the time to make them.

It's only been thanks to those clients that I now get a chance to make money out of my own games.

It's only matter of networking. You have to get to know the right people. To know potential partners, and do business with 'em.

To be honest, I haven't ever received an email back from any of the game portals that I've tried to license my games to. They have done business with me thanks to clients I had the chance to work with in the past, or out of their self-interest in any of my games. Just recently, I got to know two new partners that want to license my games, just thanks to massacre.io. Out of their own interest; They saw the game, played it, and thought they wanted it into their game portals.

You have to show your interest in this market by spending time into it, getting to know people and gain credibility, just as I said above.

 

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10 hours ago, devMidgard said:

I started working seriously as a game developer about two years ago (I am 21 now). And it's only now that I can start licensing my games

 

the situation same with me, now I'm partnering with my ex cowoker creating games, still on wip though. We have to learn how to marketing ....

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On 10/9/2016 at 10:35 PM, Jadegames said:

I'm building a HTML5 game at the moment, I'm going to release it, hopefully before the end of November and attempt to send it to a slew of games portals and see what happens. I think if I can made about £500 for a single game I will seriously consider doing this as a full time career and dedicate more time to making it. If I get considerably less I'll know that either the quality of my games or the market can't support my financial situation full time and will...I guess look at other options. 

Prices depend on game type/quality etc. I'd say if you spend 150 hours on a game and you can do that in a month and make it the type portals are looking for (polished, genre that is popular but not overdone) you can sell it for $2000-$3000. Of course that is a very rough estimate, but a safe bet in my experience. I'm really motivated by young guys that haven't started long ago, but have been productive and doing fine like @devMidgard and @Bilge Kaan .

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I'm new to this forum, but I've been developing games with an agency for many years. The agency recently liquidated their game development capabilities, along with me and other developers. The others will find their way since they have CS degrees. I however, have to deal with the mess of having an experience profile that does not match the market I'm in locally, and don't have a CS or development degree. I'm trying to transition back into front-end web, but that is quite a process when you otherwise appear to be overqualified. My degree is in web design, but I haven't been designing since I started developing games.

Anyways, I'm just noticing in this thread that it seems like most of you freelance for game dev work. Is this how the industry is? I don't know, because I was spoiled, and got right into an agency right out of design school. So, agencies who offer permanent positions for game developers... Are they out there? Are you guys really just making $3000 tops month to month, with no security?

My agency had been trying to figure out for years why they had a hard time monetizing games. We worked with Nickelodeon, Disney, and Mattel. My net in pocket, per month was over $4400. That's gone now, and I will have to move from my current location, and probably not do games anymore if I want to be able to find work wherever I go.

Of course there is freelance work out there, but so far it appears that my experience profile is a little too awkward for that, and I don't have enough time to learn a bunch of new stuff. We developed with Haxe and Flambe. It's the coolest thing ever, but there are not too many opportunities for that, that I have seen.

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13 hours ago, BBaysinger said:

I however, have to deal with the mess of having an experience profile that does not match the market I'm in locally, and don't have a CS or development degree

@BBaysinger I wouldn't say thats important in the slightest, at least for web development, at least in London. A CS degree, or any degree, just implies that you're bright (you might not be) and I can confirm that, along with your passion/enthusiasm for the industry, in a 5 minute phone call, and even that is only necessary after I've checked your online stuff included in your CV i.e. github profile, open source projects, code examples.

I have a combined CS degree, taught me nothing I didn't already know from hobby coding and taught me nothing I have used in 10+ years in the industry, much more useful was all the knowledge I learnt whilst working, which presumably you have. My experience here is not unique, I contract and work with many different teams of varying levels of expertise. For many programming jobs qualifications makes sense, for web programming, not so much. (also, disclosure, I was previously a teacher so I rate education very highly, I certainly don't hold the view that education is a solely institutional responsibility either).

Having said that, if you specialise in games, particularly where you wrap yourself away from JS by using Haxe etc, getting a good well-paid, reliable job in web-based gaming is hard and taking the jump to self-finance is just that, a big jump that needs to be weighed up sensibly.

I hope you find a new job, and one that you like that pays what you're used to, or more. Or, I hope you take the leap and we see another exciting indie pushing awesome creative products in to the marketplace.

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I'm a (full time) indie mobile game developer since 2012. To be honest, I totally missed the whole HTML5 game market until 2 or 3 months ago when I stumbled upon Matthews income reports. So I started to port some of my games to HTML5 to try this whole thing out. I've played a lot of HTML5 games from established developers, put together a list of portals / distributors and started to contact them as my first game(s) were ready. I think my games aren't a perfect fit for the HTML5 market - but I think the quality is ok - and as I already had all the content/level design/etc I thought it would be the best way for me to test this market. 

For me it was very, very hard to get the first contacts and sales. I tried everything: Contact forms, email, linked in, facebook. After lots of unreplied contact attempts I got my first sale (felt great!!!). I tried to establish a good connection, asked the publisher honest questions, learned some insights how I need to adapt my products and continued.

Now after the first months I've made a few thousands Dollars so far with selling non-exclusive licenses for my games. For the amount of work I've put into so far this is much to low for me right now (as I'm doing this full time and have to pay the bills for my famliy) - but I got my foot into the door and I also think there is potential at this market even for "newcomers".

What you need to do is to work hard on establishing good connections. Also the quality bar for the games is very high at the moment if you want to make a living out of it. So if you think you can earn some quick money with low-quality games this definitely wouldn't work out for you.

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I'd say if you spend 150 hours on a game and you can do that in a month and make it the type portals are looking for (polished, genre that is popular but not overdone) you can sell it for $2000-$3000

This is insane. This is a hourly rate of max $20 - you can't make a living out a calculation like this. At least not in Germany (Living Costs, Taxes, Insurances, Software, Hardware...). You really need to work out a strategy that will make you more for such a game.

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I am using GameMaker

I know GameMaker is a great tool to produce games, and there are some great games out there made with GameMaker. However, I encourage everyone who wants to build up a reliable business with his software/games to not use proprietary software. Your source code has a lot of value to your business. If you build up everything on a software like GameMaker your source code becomes worthless as soon as GameMaker won't get any new updates or no supports for new platforms/devices (it might not be happen, but it is possible). 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Jochen said:

This is insane. This is a hourly rate of max $20 - you can't make a living out a calculation like this. At least not in Germany (Living Costs, Taxes, Insurances, Software, Hardware...). You really need to work out a strategy that will make you more for such a game.

The 150hours - $2-$3K was a rough estimate for beginners. I'm sure one will become more optimal on the $/h ratio with time. I actually find the hours worked in monthly reports of @True Valhalla and @devMidgard an additional inspiration - they log about 100 hours a month on average, but I think over 200h is doable fulltime each month. Will that double the income?

I actually plan to work 150h from now till end of month and will report on my results :)

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Thanks 

1 hour ago, ozdy said:

I actually plan to work 150h from now till end of month and will report on my results :)

That is brilliant. I think earning the equivalent of $2-3k a month would equate to roughly what the average salary is for a 2/3rd line IT support engineer in the UK. 150 hours a month is basically a full working month in the UK as well, plus, as you say, once you factor in games taking less time once you factor in greater experience I think it is a promising ideal for me.

One other thing I've just thought about: In terms of sustainable income for HTML5 games, there are of course ad-share revenue plans, is this something you should request from each company you contact? I imagine there are advantages to mix both the one-off payment with smaller but consistent payments. Do HTML5 developers have a 40/60 split between these income streams for example? 

I really appreciate everyone's input for this, I think it's generated some lively discussion!

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It's definitely doable, just hard to find your own specific monetization plan that works. For us, we do a lot of contracting, trying to reduce the scope of projects to maximize our $p/h. We're averaging 2.5 games a month this year but that could change tomorrow, so yeah, security is an issue. Just making hay while the sun shines and making sure plan B's as good as it can be.

We make good money at the moment, however that's entirely dependent on finding a steady supply of work, and constantly being super productive.

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Simple web games are relatively easy to make, and very hard to monetize in any way, other that just driving insane amounts of traffic through them and displaying ads. And that space seems to be oversaturated already (collapsed in 2014-2015).

More complex web games require a certain amount of expertise, the market is not saturated with them, so in theory they could become a good source of income for seasoned devs, just like it was in the golden era of Flash (2006 - 2010). But it's 2016 today, and yet nobody knows how to build a business around them and how to monetize them properly! IAPs on the web is a dead horse. Current bets are on rewarded videos, which bring in ~$10 in cpm - but they work ok only in certain genres, which rely on endogeneous value, stats grinding, etc.

Supporting complex projects via donations and crowdfunding - can't say anything positive, seems to work well only for a few exceptions, largely adult games.

I wish Amazon Underground became a success as a platform, which would encourage others to take this risk and invest money in competing platforms. Having your income tied to amount of time which the player spent in your game is an awesome proposition, and would encourage good game design and replayability. The downside is that this space would become oversaturated pretty fast too, so only good AI-driven recommendation engine would save it.

In the long run $3k / mo is a pretty decent income for a professional indie gamedev, $5k / mo is rather outstanding already. So if you want to continue this career path brace yourself to migrate economically, somewhere in Thailand or Goa. It's not a good career choice for the 1st world country, but you can still pursue it and be happy if you move accordingly. 

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On 13/10/2016 at 4:26 PM, ozdy said:

The 150hours - $2-$3K was a rough estimate for beginners. I'm sure one will become more optimal on the $/h ratio with time. I actually find the hours worked in monthly reports of @True Valhalla and @devMidgard an additional inspiration - they log about 100 hours a month on average, but I think over 200h is doable fulltime each month. Will that double the income?

I actually plan to work 150h from now till end of month and will report on my results :)

If there is a correlation between time and money it may not be reflected within the same month. I could work 200h on a game or backend a given month while revenue from that work would appear 3 months later when I worked less...

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4 hours ago, OkijinGames said:

If there is a correlation between time and money it may not be reflected within the same month. I could work 200h on a game or backend a given month while revenue from that work would appear 3 months later when I worked less...

Yeah, I know that fully well, it's an estimate, and money would not pour in immediately, that's for sure. Another reason why I said those hours is because I know many cases where indies just can't put good hours on their own, and that's a good reason why they can't make it :)

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13 hours ago, ozdy said:

Yeah, I know that fully well, it's an estimate, and money would not pour in immediately, that's for sure. Another reason why I said those hours is because I know many cases where indies just can't put good hours on their own, and that's a good reason why they can't make it :)

True, lack of time commitment is certainly one of the factor for failure. I honestly have no precise idea of how much time I put in a given project as I never really count my work hours and I always multitask with everything else related to managing the business.

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It's important to mention that in the current environment you will still make much more doing contract HTML5 game development than you will licensing games.

True Valhalla can correct me on this but I think in his income reports he lumps both contract work and licensing into the same heading of "HTML5 Games" revenue but a good chunk, particularly in the big ~$10,000 months, comes from doing contract development.

I was never able to license a game for more than $500 and even that only after months of back and forth e-mails in broken English. Contrast that with $3,000 to $6,000 per game doing contract work locally, so that's the route I went.

However contracts are a one-time payout for hours worked and it's hard to build a sustainable small business on that alone. Looking back I wish I had stuck with licensing on the side, because even a small passive income (no extra work required) of $300 to $500 a month can make a real difference in sustainability.

 

 

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On 18/10/2016 at 4:41 AM, KyleNau said:

However contracts are a one-time payout for hours worked and it's hard to build a sustainable small business on that alone. Looking back I wish I had stuck with licensing on the side, because even a small passive income (no extra work required) of $300 to $500 a month can make a real difference in sustainability.

While I value occasional contract work, I originally started making games for a living with the goal of generating passive income, and that's why my primary business is built around licensing. Even now, while I'm on holiday, I have been negotiating $20K worth of licensing sales.

This year has been particularly good for contract work, but I would hate for it to become the bulk of my work. At least with licensing you get to work on games that you actually want to make. A strict balance between licensing and contract work is important to me.

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We've been doing mainly contracts and it's been really good! We get to make the games we want to make too, as we pitch them stuff and they give us a price. Means we always know how much a project is worth, and how much time we can afford to put into a game to keep it profitable. Haven't really bothered with licensing at this stage, as we haven't needed to.

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License is the best way to go. I started selling templates on sites like Scirra and CodeCanyon, then I moved into getting contracts and now I am licensing my games.  License is better because a template you would sell for $15 - $30 while I get $300 for a non-exclusive contract for a game. Also, when I license a game I don't make the source code available while when you sell templates you kind of have to.

I am finalizing my new website to go full time in licensing my games. I hope to quit my job as Marketing director to only dedicated my time in making games :)

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