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Making money with HTML5 games, thoughts?

11 posts in this topic

(Not a programmer, just some thoughts and questions, feel free to add anything.)

Open discussion, keep it professional.


I always read that making money from HTML5 based games are hard or impossible, that everything that has to do with a transaction is a "security nightmare", etc.

But It got me thinking, other games use transactions. Websites use transactions. What is different with HTML5 and why is it different? Maybe(!?) making in-game transactions using HTML5 technologies are a bad idea, I really don't know, but, if it is the web, why would it be? I already buy things from Amazon, Kick Starter and many other sites. They all use current web technologies, which HTML5 is/will be.

And then, how about buying things like items and stuff for your user account, like every other online purchase in existence and then calling them from within game?

Like you have this "AwesomeGames" site which you create an "AwesomeAccount" in, like most MMO's. Then this site has its own "AwesomeStore" which you can buy stuff in, for your own "AwesomeAccount" which you use to play the "AwesomeGame" with.

The server running the game would be checking that you are actually you, like all other MMOs, and allow you to use your premium items. Where is the problem?

Isn't this the method Amazon, MMO's and other sites use? And if not, why not use that method with HTML5 games?

In my "logical" sense, whether its right or wrong, the issue seems to have been resolved for many years already. Which brought me here, to ask the pro's!

Good day!
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There is nothing that makes HTML5 inherently worse than anything else, anything that deals with real money is a security nightmare though, primarily because the consequences of a securityflaw becomes much greater.

My recommendation would be to not write your own system for payment processing, instead you should probably use a third party that has a good reputation and that will take responsibility if anything goes wrong,
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I think a large part of the problem is that Javascript is the only language you can use to hit all the browsers supporting HTML5, and it is plain-text and cannot be pre-compiled. Although tools exist to minify and obfuscate your Javascript there are many tools to do the reverse.

I don't think transactions are the big problem, they can occur securely, but actually restricting the benefit. Imagine you download all the HTML, Images, Sounds, Javascript with your browser, re-host them, and removed the Javascript saying if (purchased == true)... Well, now users have no reason to complete a purchase. Of course with an MMO you can validate server-side so other clients won't see you in all your epic gear, and you can't spend your fake gold where you edited variable x, but you get the point.
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I think GnollAF brings a good point, the open sourceness of HTML5 platform makes all sorts of hacking much easier than other closed-sourced games. Purchasing aside, this could make it easier for people to hack the game as well giving themselves an unfair advantage - not a good thing when you have paying customers!

Of course, it's not like other platforms/languages don't have that problem, it's just that with JS being all open and client-side, it's a bit easier to pull it off than, say, decompiling binaries and messing with assembly.
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[quote name='Koobazaur' timestamp='1345926352' post='4973323']
I think GnollAF brings a good point, the open sourceness of HTML5 platform makes all sorts of hacking much easier than other closed-sourced games. Purchasing aside, this could make it easier for people to hack the game as well giving themselves an unfair advantage - not a good thing when you have paying customers!

Of course, it's not like other platforms/languages don't have that problem, it's just that with JS being all open and client-side, it's a bit easier to pull it off than, say, decompiling binaries and messing with assembly.
[/quote]

It should also be fairly irrelevant, if you design your game correctly it shouldn't matter if the hacker has access to the sourcecode or not.
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[quote name='Koobazaur' timestamp='1345951717' post='4973395']
so what you are saying is that pretty much every single online game in existence has not been designed correctly?
[/quote]

Wait what ?
I can't think of a single online game where access to the client sourcecode has an impact on security.

Yes , there are some multiplayer games that you can cheat in by modifying the client (or inspecting/modifying) the datastream but this has very little to do with the security of the game itself and sourcecode access to the client doesn't change anything.

If your game security relies on the client not being modifiable then the hackers will win unless your game is played on a trusted platform. Edited by SimonForsman
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Simon, you seem to be concentrating on multiplayer games only:

Even World of Warcraft has problems with people finding ways to modify the client. People cheating in PvP by removing walls \ doors from their local maps, making other characters heads much larger so they can be seen from a distance etcetera.

Yes this could be solved if they went ahead and did server-side collision checking, but apparently it's not worth the work and extra processing power required for that very large company. Imagine how much easier it would be to modify if they gave the whole client source to everyone? People already reverse-engineer 'private' servers for many of these pay-to-play games, but it does take months to years before they get released.


I see two issues.
- Modification and re-hosting (especially if they reverse engineer the server too), removing the need for users to spend money on the original game at all.
- Easier hacking & modification, now nothing can be calculated client-side. Your 'perfect solution' is at the level of rendering server-side and pushing through video, and just letting the client send input. (Not a solution that is going to work for Australian players)

You can say it is irrelevant and that the game has been designed incorrectly if something is dependent on client-side calculation, but I think it's just a reality in many games.
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[quote name='SimonForsman' timestamp='1345952293' post='4973397']
[quote name='Koobazaur' timestamp='1345951717' post='4973395']
so what you are saying is that pretty much every single online game in existence has not been designed correctly?
[/quote]

Wait what ?
I can't think of a single online game where access to the client sourcecode has an impact on security.

Yes , there are some multiplayer games that you can cheat in by modifying the client (or inspecting/modifying) the datastream but this has very little to do with the security of the game itself and sourcecode access to the client doesn't change anything.

If your game security relies on the client not being modifiable then the hackers will win unless your game is played on a trusted platform.
[/quote]

IT's not just about modifying the binary; seeing the whole source code also gives you a clearer idea how the game functions and, in turn, makes it easier to discover exploits or ways to hack it.

Sure the same is possible without source code, but having the code just makes the job easier.
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"Making money from HTML5 games" it's so vague.

Who's paying? The players? Advertisers? The company who pays you to produce a branded version with their products placed in it?

It's such a 1-dimensional way of looking at it, thinking that you must sell the game to the PLAYERS.

To be honest, making money from the players of any kind of game nowadays is nearly impossible. Phone / ipad users expect high quality games for a few cents (maybe USD $2.99 if it's really good), which makes it difficult to break even, because you're almost definitely not going to shift enough units to pay your artists for their work on the title screen alone. Edited by markr
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@markr makes a good point[b]:[/b]

[quote name='markr' timestamp='1349490020' post='4987315']
users [b]expect[/b] high quality games for a few cents
[/quote]

Expectation is the key here. Thinking of games as a commodity, the consumer is now presented with a staggering amount of choice and I think we're seeing a situation where supply outstrips demand by considerable margin. Therefore, unless the item is of perceived scarcity/value, it's likely a cheaper (free-er) alternative will be available so we've learned to go find it.

Added to this is the key problem with the web: it was not designed as a paid content delivery platform. iOS was, droid wasn't, etc and it shows.

The users of the "desktop" web do not expect to pay for content so this IMHO presents the biggest problem for HTML5 games.

My suspicion is that HTML5 games that will be able to 'monetize' effectively won't be casual games. They'll be hybrids of free to play / subscription based models using well known I.P. e.g. a Fallout universe based MMORG over HTML5 Edited by Dan Bridge
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I like messing around with HTML5, unfortunately I don't think it's ready for commercial game development yet, for one reason only: the audio situation, especially cross-platform, is a Grade A Nightmare. The W3C and partners spent an inordinate amount of time on Canvas because it's big and flashy and makes for good demos, then almost completely ignored Audio.

First, the Audio tag sucks. I don't think any browser implements it the same, not even the various WebKit browsers, and there are some weird bugs on each platform. The standard doesn't even define something that is really useful for games. You can hack around it, but latency is a huge issue and those bugs tend to rear their heads at inopportune times.

The Audio API doesn't seem to be coming anytime soon. You can again hack around it with some funkiness involving Data URIs ([url="https://www.wedusc.com/synth/"]which sorta-maybe-kinda-works, but not really[/url]). Fun as a proof of concept, sucks as an actual product.

On top of that, there is no indication that iOS is ever going to let us play audio in a way that makes sense for games. Apple explicitly violates the HTML5 standard for audio and video to be able to prevent any notion of auto-play. There are a number of hacks to get around them, Apple is always trying to close them. That throws out a huge market for HTML5. Funny, remember when the iPhone was first released without native 3rd party apps and Steve Jobs told everyone to make HTML5 apps? Then, when everyone pitched a fit and the locked-down App Store was introduced, they even used HTML5 apps to shoo everyone's fears promising HTML5 apps would be unfettered. So the only reliable way to get an HTML5 app to work with audio properly is to wrap it in a Native app and put it in the App Store. Hell, if you're going to make a native app, you might as well make a native app and get access to a semi-decent audio interface. It also kind of defeats the point of HTML5 giving everyone a single point of entry to the game. I don't want to have to say "go here to get the game, except you people, you go here".

If all you wanted to do was work on desktop browser games, you can get HTML5 audio to work, eventually, well enough for puzzle games and anything that doesn't strictly *rely* on audio. In its current state, I don't think you could make a rhythm game that worked well. So if you're stuck on the desktop, you might as well do Flash or Java at that point. Even the people I've seen who *are* doing successful HTML5 games at least use a Java or Flash adapter to do the audio, that is how bad the audio situation is right now.
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