Betting on HTML5 for game development 1

In this series of articles I want to show how I leveraged HTML5 both natively and for the mobile web to jump-start my business in the video game industry.

HTML5 has become the candidate recommendation of the W3C in December last year and despite its evident benefits many wonder whether the technology is mature enough for use in enterprise level projects. To further alienate, the technology comes with an unfortunate amalgamation made about everywhere; in assessment we must always distinguish between HTML5 applications running as native mobile apps and HTML5 applications for the mobile web. This point is especially important for canvas-based applications.


deliverBut before we start demystifying and debunking further allegations toward HTML5, I would like to give you a bit of background on my business story.

Prior to founding Okijin Ltd, I was working as Technical Lead in the financial sector. In my spare time, I started to experiment with Direct3D and OpenGL as I needed a solid technology for a data visualization software I was working on. Although I have always been fascinated by the creativity and UX found in games, these technologies further raised my interest in game development and this is the reason why I decided to create my first video game.

I would first target the mobile market. The PC market is less casual, consumers tend to be more hard-core and there is much more production value in the competition. Realistically, it was not an optimized target for my circumstance.

Because of this decision, I needed a different technology. Being able to target all mobile platforms at very low cost was a sine qua non.

I started to dig into HTML5 in January 2013 and immediately was seduced by its potential. I was so impressed by the initial results that I decided to quit my day job six months later to focus 100% on HTML5 game development – Okijin Games was born!

The business idea is to be able to develop games at low-cost with decent production value for a well-targeted player base (this is an important point which will be discussed in later topics on this blog) as well as reaching out to all mobile platforms natively and on the web; HTML5 is fit for all these requirements.

wemadeitI released my first game, Zombies Can’t Jump, in August 2013 on Windows Phone 8 after 3 months of development. The game ranked 1st paid strategy game on Windows Phone Store in China and Italy and TOP 5 in the US with a global user rating of 4.6/5.

These results confirmed to me that HTML5 games could match the competition in native mobile environment. The high rating also shows that satisfying quality levels can be attained in relatively short time and on low-budget with the technology.

I later released the game on Google Play, iTunes, Chrome Web Store, Samsung App Store and the web through various portals. All with a single code base and fairly straightforward adaptation.

Another interesting point about HTML5 games is their monetization openings in their simplest apparel – on the web. Web content can be licensed to web publishers. The best of both worlds isn’t it?

To sum up this introduction, HTML5 brings 3 major benefits to my business:

  • Fast development times with an easy-to-use high-level technology. Well suited to small budgets and therefore very attractive to a starting indie game studio.
  • Unrivalled, cheap portability. HTML5 is a core internet technology and internet enabled devices are everywhere. As a small indie game studio you are not competing at the same level of exposure as bigger players in the industry, so it is vital not to bet on one single platform. Trying to grab a smaller bite of many cakes is simply easier.
  • Monetization options in both native and web worlds. Native apps can be monetized as paid apps or with ads and iAPs while, on the other side, web licencing can become a vital component for revenue generation in your indie business.

In the next articles we will go through each of these points in more details:

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