Front

A new life for your game or how to sell something that has already been sold

After having lots of conversations with quite a huge amount of flash game developers we came to the conclusion that many of them have accumulated a number of old games with the rights that were sold to various sponsors and gaming portals long time ago.

So we decided to write an article about how developer can re-monetize the old game without too much effort. For most game developers, the best option would be to port their old games on a new platform. And since for many it is important to port the game without a lot of efforts, we chose to talk about the process of porting the game to the HTML5.
In this article, you’ll find out what games are suitable for porting to the HTML5, how to port the game to HTML5, as well as how to sell your game and to whom.
So all in order.

Briefly about the pros and cons of HTML5 technology:

pros:

– Cross-platform (the ability to run the game on almost all platforms)
– It takes less time to develop HTML5 applications
– Saving resources (a single code for all platforms is cheaper than developing an application for each platform)
– Instant bug fix

cons:

– Games can be easily stolen, since they are practically unprotected.
– Possible problems with the performance.
– Mobile devices limitations.
– Undeveloped distribution channels.
– The lack of a single standard supported by all devices and browsers. As a result, developers have to waste a lot of time fixing mistakes that inevitably occur on certain mobile devices.

Hopefully the various shortcomings of HTML5 didn’t scare you and you firmly decided to port your game for the web. So here’s the logical question – “where to start?
To expand the technical aspects of porting games to HTML5, we talked to Alexander Norinchak – a huge fan and an advocate of HTML5 technology. Also he is the CTO at PlayToMax. The company’s portfolio includes more than 100 HTML5 games (original as well as ported). Alexander shared some secrets of the development and porting, and also showed us some examples of their ported games.

Here’s what we’ve learned from a conversation with Alexander:

First of all, not all games are suitable for porting to HTML5. There are some restrictions.
For example, when porting the game for the mobile HTML5, you need to take into account the specifics of the game controllers. If the game is controlled by the keyboard, then most likely you will have to work really hard to transport the controls of the game to achieve the desired gaming experience on mobile devices. Of course it is possible to emulate all sorts of on-screen joysticks, but it does not always help – fingers often overlap a big part of the playing area of the screen, so developer must either alter levels/gameplay or put such games aside.

Here’s an example of “Dangerous Treasures” game.
– http://www.playtomax.com/games/dangerous_treasures/ – this is a ported version of the game
– http://www.physicsgames.net/game/Dangerous_Treasures.html/ – and this is the original flash version.

As we can see, original version of the game is controlled by the computer keyboard, so the developers had to seriously alter gameplay as well as the levels of the game.
The difficulties with the transformation of the game controls are not always so critical, but they are certainly worth considering.
Also the 3D games can’t be ported to the mobile web.
Currently there is almost no support for WebGL technology in most mobile.
You can check it here .

So let’s move on. How actually to port the game? The process of porting itself depends on the approach how to build an HTML5 application.

Talking about the games with the canvas rendering, there are only 3 stages:

– The porting of the graphics
In fact, the art is the only thing we need from the original version of the game, because we write the code “from scratch”. The porting of the graphics is a complex process, which depends on the complexity of the original format of the game graphics. Finally we need to get a bitmap version of all elements of the game, starting from the background and ending with the animation and effects.

– Porting (or developing “from scratch”) a game logic via JavaScript.
This is the most important and time consuming step of a process of porting a game. The quantity of time you spend to port the game depends on the game itself. It can take from about 2 weeks to a few months of coding. For example, it took about 2 weeks to develop this cross-platform physical puzzle Werebox2 .

In most cases you need to use a framework to develop the HTML5 game. The Werebox2 has been ported using the framework “Squire”. What framework to choose – is rather hard question – there are lots of them. Alexander Norinchak noted two: CreateJS and Cocos2d. Squire is a framework developed by PlayToMax, and in general it is similar in its functionality to CreateJS and Cocos2d, the only significant difference is that the Squire is more optimized for developing applications specifically for mobile platforms. Unfortunately, the framework is not available for public use yet.

Also to create WereBox2 the developers used optimized physics engine Box2d, resizer-packer for graphics and a simple level editor, in other words – framework standard tools.

– Testing and fixing possible bugs in the game.
It is worth saying that, for effective mobile web application testing, you need a number of mobile devices (at least the most popular). Also in some cases you can just contact one of the companies that provide application testing services.
Werebox2 took only a couple of days of testing and bug fixing.

Let’s say we have gone through all these stages and now we have a nice ready-to-play mobile HTML5 game. What’s the next step? How and to whom to sell our game? Next we will focus on the distribution of our HTML5 game, as well as the specifics of its licensing.

Despite the fact that recently there have been mostly positive trends in the HTML5 gaming market, for some HTML5 game developers the monetization issue still remains a very important and relevant one, as the ecosystem for the technology is not developed enough. Nevertheless, even now with a proper business model you can have a good profit from your HTML5 games.
Actually, the monetization options for HTML5 games are almost the same as for the flash game market.

Here’s how you can monetize your game:

– Selling the exclusive license.
Not long time ago SpilGames (http://www.spilgames.com/) were mainly engaged in purchasing exclusive licenses for HTML5 games and they set quite reasonable prices for them. But recently, the company has had a number of changes, and now it’s hard to say whether they maintain their prices and the pace of purchasing the content.
In other cases, you will need to make some researches to sell an exclusive license of your game.

– Selling sitelocks.
Currently it is the most common way to monetize an HTML5 game. You can get from $200 to $600 on average for each game. All you need is to find active buyers. Frankly speaking, there are lots of portals willing to buy the non-exclusive licenses for the HTML5 games. Primarily it is interesting for the flash game portal owners. They need to hold a number of regular visitors on their sites. Sooner or later people acquire mobile devices and they wonder why they can’t run any of the flash games on their favorite gaming portals. Therefore, over time the owners of the game portals lose a great amount of users and they have no options except to offer them the games that run on mobile browsers.
Also you can sell the non-exclusive licenses on the online-auction portals for games such as FGL.

– Revenue share.
You give the game to a client’s portal or to a network of portals for free and than receive some percentage of the advertising revenue from your game. It all depends on the client, but don’t expect big profits. When it comes to a good traffic and when you offer a nice game, client usually buys a sitelock.

– Self-distribution and earnings on advertising.
Developer integrates an advertisement directly into the game and gives it to the partner’s site for free. So you get profit from the in-game advertising (which has been shown directly in the game). However, unlike the flash game market, currently there are no automatic distribution channels for the HTML5 games. So for now it is a sort of a routine work.
Furthermore unfortunately the most effective advertising tool – GoogleAds is not suitable for such distribution, because Google requires a clear reference to the domains where the ads will appear.

And finally, a few helpful tips from PlayToMax:

1. Obfuscate your code in order to protect your game against piracy. It’s not a 100% guarantee but at least it will certainly create some problems for pirates and thus will eliminate some part of them.
2. Specify the platform of the game you sell and keep the rest of the rights for your title. Due to the fact that the HTML5 is the universal technology you can wrap your game to almost any platform in no time. For example, HTML5 web, iOS app and Android app – these are three different licenses.
3. When selling a sitelock, the portal and its mirrors must be written in the contract.
4. Require an access to the statistics if you are using the revenue share scheme. Almost no one provides it but if we all insist maybe the situation will change.