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Can html5 gamedev get the second chance in misfortune of recently discovered Flash vulnerability?

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The mass exodus seems to be taking place.

 

http://venturebeat.com/2015/07/22/twitch-is-ditching-flash-for-html5-just-like-youtube/

http://venturebeat.com/2015/07/07/adobe-confirms-flash-vulnerability-found-via-hacking-team-leak-promises-patch-tomorrow/

 

So basically soon will be the day when traditional portals like Armor Games, Kongregate, Newgrounds along with massive behemoths like Big Fish and Facebook will have to cease serving flash-based games. And potentially we could see the second wave of gold rush in this space, now with social and casual games.

 

What do you think?

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Something has to happen because as a game platform - for North Americans in particular - HTML5 has stalled out almost completely. At least that's how it seems. Even the few companies I've been watching that were testing out HTML5 have switched to Unity apps instead.

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There needs to be a very good and famous game made with Web technologies for people to see the proof that it is a viable platform. Most people tend to just reproduce what they know already works, and no big game has proven that it works yet.

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I don't really consider those to be AAA games that shine throughout the industry. They are casual games, and everyone knows the Web is good for casual, simple games, but what we need is some big name game, something like Hearthstone or Minecraft (both of which I believe could be made using the Web tech stack). The folks at Unreal have put up some nice demos to show off what the Web can do, but those are demos, not games. 

 

But maybe I'm naive and biased and the technologies are just not good enough yet.

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The tech is there to make high quality games but the consumer demand isn't. The web versions of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope are basically tech demos and the real business is still the almighty app.

 

It probably comes down to awareness. The consumer needs to know that they can play great games in the browser and the developers need to know they can monetize games in the browser. All of this provided the platform developers stop breaking the browsers with every update and sponsors stop expecting games to support every outdated crap phone and OS on the market.

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It sucks because the rise of HTML5 gaming is inevitable and therefore the best opportunity is to get in while we're still in a chaotic transition phase but unfortunately that chaotic transition has been going on for years now. My first sponsorship deal was in 2012 for $500 bucks (to a company that doesn't even exist anymore) and the marketplace is just as shaky now as it was then. Flash sponsorship is in the toilet but HTML5 hasn't yet picked up any of that slack.

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It probably comes down to awareness. The consumer needs to know that they can play great games in the browser and the developers need to know they can monetize games in the browser.

Something else to think about. From the consumer's perspective UX is probably a huge factor when it comes to embracing browser-based games on mobile devices. The ease with which a user can start a native app (simple swipe and tap) makes the typical start-up experience for browser-based games seem cumbersome. Given time, consumer's may well adjust, but given how app stores are well-entrenched it will be a while before that happens (if ever). I think what we need is the equivalent of Valve's Steam service for html5 games. The service would itself be an app that "installs" html5 games as icon shortcuts eliminating the need for the user to directly start up a browser. This would go a long way to accelerating the adoption of html5 games. So...if anyone knows someone over at Valve...

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Good news, everyone: it's already possible! If you go to the Firefox Marketplace - https://marketplace.firefox.com/ - from your Android mobile for example, you will be able to install Web apps to your phone, and launch them by clicking an icon from your home screen like any other app. And it works on desktop as well.

 

I'm not too familiar with the technical requirements to install a Web app (specifically, I don't know if Firefox is required), but there's documentation on MDN: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/Apps/Build/JavaScript_API

 

So, the problem is not technical, it is already possible to install Web apps to any platform. The problem is that no one knows it's possible.

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Good news, everyone: it's already possible! If you go to the Firefox Marketplace - https://marketplace.firefox.com/ - from your Android mobile for example, you will be able to install Web apps to your phone, and launch them by clicking an icon from your home screen like any other app. And it works on desktop as well.

 

Firefox marketplace looks interesting - got 8000 installs with 4 games there in less than 3 weeks but mostly from desktop users.

 

The technology is standard (similar to chrome web store but with manual review of apps by their staff) and from a user perspective installation flow is similar to any native app install experience. An icon is created on android devices, an uninstall entry is also created on desktop systems.

 

For monetisation, I am not sure there is much viable alternative to advertising although the marketplace offers several models like "try and buy" or IAP (through third party providers). A contact in their business development team told me that some large publishers have seen 5-digit revenue / month on the markeplace using advertising as their main source of revenue. Worth giving it a try.

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When we talk about the web games industry we cannot take AAA games in consideration. 

 

The real issue of HTML5 over Flash is monetization solutions.

 

I've been struggling with finding a monetization route. I want to be able to offer a universal monetization solution. "Universal" meaning a single solution for web/desktop/mobile but also for native iOS and Android builds compiled with Cordova.

I'm finding it really difficult. In fact I logged on now to ask opinions about Kongregate solutions. Which I'll do in another post.

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@totor - I'm looking for a single service that would provide advertising and iap.

Ideally, such a service would provide for split revenue payouts between the different developers on a project (like EpicGameAds does but only for Flash).

 

It has been about a year since I looked for a solution, maybe something new has come up since then.

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Have you guys ever wondered how simple single player Flash/HTML5/Mobile games make money - mainly by ads for bigger more polished games with big retention. With time more and more such simple games are released, and more and more casual players are lost to bigger games. Thus, a new simple game is worth less and less with time.

 

Dream on for the good old days, I sure do regret me not being very productive during the 2009 golden Flash days :)

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Have you guys ever wondered how simple single player Flash/HTML5/Mobile games make money - mainly by ads for bigger more polished games with big retention. With time more and more such simple games are released, and more and more casual players are lost to bigger games. Thus, a new simple game is worth less and less with time.

 

Dream on for the good old days, I sure do regret me not being very productive during the 2009 golden Flash days :)

 

Advertising spending has actually been increasing steadily and substantially during the past few years. eMarketer estimates "that US app install ad spending totalled $1.67 billion in 2014 and expects this to reach $3.00 billion this year" - that's 80% increase.

 

So it would seem that it is actually the opposite that is happening with even more and more opportunities for ad publishers on the mobile web or native stores. At the end, more and more bigger games are fighting for the top spots and they do so by injecting more money into advertising.

 

There is also another shift happening with ad budgets going from desktop to mobile, which surely means that HTML5 content for the mobile web is tapping into a growing pool of advertisers - this is trending up.

 

No the problem is not that there is no money to be made from ads, it is that developers do not cash in on the opportunity due to very imbalanced rev. share deals if at all...

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@Okijin, you're saying that demand is increasing, but maybe supply is increasing even more? I have some experience in HTML5, Flash, Android, IOS, and even portal sites AdSense ads. In all these cases I've seen a downward trend in plays, license fees, and ads ecpm.

 

I remember you made a lot of money with your first game Zombies Can't Jump. Were you able to match that with your next ones, or did you too see a downward trend?

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Irrespective of the overall estimated advertising spend, we should avoid feeding our competition for the sake of a few pennies.  Due to the nature of programmatic SSPs if we place adverts in our game, we can almost guarantee (these days) that those adverts will be to advertise a competitor game.  We can focus on the few examples who got rich doing this, or the CPMs achieved, but fill-rates shift the distributions of these earnings in a non-normal way so proportional success is unlikely.  The same was not true 3+ years ago - discoverability for game apps was comparatively easier, cost of user acquisition was generally less, therefore in-game ads more commonly showed ads for non-games.  There's no underlying risk to advertising a detergent or insurance in a game (retargeting), but advertising another game, with more bells and whistles than our own, is just surrender.

 

Unless that is, we think of our own work not as games, but as advertising vehicles or alternative interactive vehicle (learning, creative, gambling, etc).

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@Okijin, you're saying that demand is increasing, but maybe supply is increasing even more? I have some experience in HTML5, Flash, Android, IOS, and even portal sites AdSense ads. In all these cases I've seen a downward trend in plays, license fees, and ads ecpm.

 

I remember you made a lot of money with your first game Zombies Can't Jump. Were you able to match that with your next ones, or did you too see a downward trend?

 

Sure, with growing competition I can imagine that it becomes harder for portals to generate similar revenue with same content as previous year which is actually good news for content creator as publishers would need to acquire (see my notes below) new content to keep being relevant in the ad space competition.

 

Regarding Adsense CPM, we should keep in mind that Google is competing directly with its publishing partners and therefore its financial strategy can directly affect partners revenue. An example if we look at Q2 earnings 2015, we see that Google percentage of inventory allocation to partners is lesser despite a growth in advertising revenue (only 22% compared to 40% few years ago) which probably means the network is (among other things) distributing lower value ads to more partners... Anyone would do the same in a monopoly position... ad mediation in the $billion scale :) This I believe, has more impact to Adsense CPM variations than anything else.

 

For mobile web content licensing (HTML5) Zombies Can't Jump revenue was good, Jelly Slice and Aqua Thief (published Dec. 2014) did even better as I was also able to target niche publishers (maths and educational). My last 3 games (Sticky Goo, Rope Ninja and Pebble Boy) were published in June, July and August 2015 respectively so it is hard to establish a comparison with such a short time. The games have generated decent revenue so far but I may add, mainly from new clients!

 

What has been alienating me the most recently is the syndication which takes place among existing publishers - several of them even told me that they were waiting for others to license my games so they can get them from there... As a result I have put things on hold with these former clients and have been mainly looking for new prospects. So far, I managed to keep steady revenue without signing deals I don't like or seeing my new games jeopardized among that syndication. This is more work but I would rather pay this price because at the end I don't believe in this sub-licensing model at all.

 

I remember having a discussion with Addicting Games a year ago as they wanted to license my games. They said that they could get it from Tresensa but wanted to check with me first and setup a direct deal as they favor this type of relation which we did at the end. At that time I was thinking that serious publishers would always have the same approach as Addicting Games but I guess I was wrong seeing now many guys (which I thought were serious publishers working directly with developers) syndicating their content without care...

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What has been alienating me the most recently is the syndication which takes place among existing publishers - several of them even told me that they were waiting for others to license my games so they can get them from there... As a result I have put things on hold with these former clients and have been mainly looking for new prospects.

Exactly the same scenario here - as a consequence I've shifted focus to other forms of income from html5 games.  The affiliate networks have reduced the pool of available licensing publishers to a point where it wasn't something that could sustain development alone for me.

 

The knock-on effect is that they are less likely to receive decent new games from existing developers as more and more give up on this kind of income and look elsewhere

 

this entire 'market' seems to evolve every 6 months though so will be interesting to see where it goes next!

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