Navigating The Wild West of HTML5 Games
It’s no secret that HTML5 gaming is still in its infancy. The “wild west” is probably a decent term to use when describing this space. It’s a bittersweet territory to play in, one that is ripe for innovation yet sour to a formula that works universally in its current state. By formula, I mean creating a sustainable business as an HTML5 game developer.
So how do we create this formula? Where are we going and how do we pave the path to get there? Well, the right answer to that would probably lead to some pretty fancy dinners. However, I believe the starting point is closer to us than we may think – that starting point being a retrospect on native apps.
If we look at the evolution of how revenue is generated with native apps, it has certainly witnessed some major shifts. The original model stated that we should charge for our games upfront, monetizing users with a fixed cost that scales directly with the number of downloads. Then market saturation kicked in and game visibility became a rich man’s world. Indie developers could no longer compete on exposure with a paid app, so we had to resort to offering the game for free and cross our fingers that virality would follow. Which also meant that we needed to find creative ways to monetize users on the back-end.
Enter in-app purchases and advertising. It’s easy to look at [insert any buzzworthy game here] and see why they achieved so much success. It wasn’t due to how much they charged for their product but how they capitalized on the immersive experience. They analyzed where the stickiness occurred and demonstrated a compelling consumer offer via in-app purchases. And for those able to add a complementary revenue stream, interactive advertising provided a nice channel for monetizing high-volume traffic. Overall, these new methods of revenue creation were a gift in disguise because it required us to be more creative as game developers, designing games that hooked users enough to motivate a transaction.
Which brings us back to the wild west of HTML5. It isn’t unrealistic to say that our space could mirror the monetization cycle of native games. Maybe even faster so. Which is why we need to start looking at the smart monetization points of our games if we expect to create a business from them. Offering a non-restart or extra lives option for a nominal fee. Or how about prompting a rewards-based sponsor offer in between every other level? These approaches can provide different marks of value for your players while minimizing a negative user experience.
Anyone who’s ever deployed a game on any app store knows that acquiring quality traffic is crazy expensive. Maintaining positive LTV’s after the fact is whole different story. This is why (uh-oh, shameless plug) GameMix exists – we strive for smarter game discovery because everybody wins. Players get a better, relevant experience and developers see a better quality of traffic.
Imagine scaling your traffic simply on the merit of your game quality and relevance to other games. Instant gaming (a la HTML5) allows this to be quite seamless. Couple this smart discovery (a la GameMix) with a smart monetization point and you’re literally in business. This is the world we imagine.
As HTML5 technology continues to improve, it will be interesting to witness how solid game design gets leveraged into intelligent revenue channels. So saddle up and load those pistols, it’s time to become sheriff of this wild west.