Revolution does not come gradually, but all of a sudden. We could see it in a case of switching from boxed versions of games in shops to digital copies via services as Steam and its alternatives as Itch.io, HumbleBundle, Gog, Origin, GreenManGaming, GameJolt and others. However, as Fortnite is showing us in current months, with strong brand behind you, you do not need any of such platforms and can do it on your own. This should even be the case of mobile devices where are a bit stricter security constraints.
At the other end, in the browser, it looks like the time stopped its flow 10 years ago. We still do see the same ways of game distribution, only a platform or a producer is being changed over time.
This post is related to browser games. If you are looking for publishers of premium PC/console games, check this article.
Two current types of distribution of online games:
- Game Distribution via a platform designed for this purpose
There are 2 typical representatives with different ways of operation:
1.1 GameDistribution.com. GameDistribution is an open platform providing game distribution and monetization. All you need to do is implement a SDK kit (available for all major languages) for in-game ads. Then GameDistribution sends your game to webmasters who can select, whether they will, or will not add it on their websites.
- Rewards system: GameDistribution splits incomes to third parties (Publishers = website which published a game / developer / GameDistribution). It means a developer receives only 33% share of incomes generated by his game.
- Freedom. It is possible to distribute a game running from GameDistribution cloud and domain as well as from your own. Games can contain any brand, external links and so on.
- One of the highest CPM in the market
IoGames.space is a new website which came together with phenomenon of .io games. The website collects all .io games. The games which are linking back to the website are more visible at the website. It works on a principle of the trade. They will get links helping for SEO and traffic for external websites for which they will make the game more visible at their website with 4 millions monthly visits (August 2018).
2. Game Distribution under certain brand
You will come to this type of game distribution mainly by two ways — you will find a website which provides a possibility to add a game there, or you are contacted by a webmaster of such website. In most cases, these websites looking for own version of games for a reason that they want to have it individualized — mainly have their brand and own or no ads inside.
Here's a selection of three of the most visible websites you can currently find:
- Share ratio & game licence prices: individual for every game
- Shared income between $1.2–$3 per 1000 plays (according to web)
- an option to select to sell a game license, or have a share from income generated on the website
- website does not have many own games so far — there is still a big space to have the games promoted.
- Most users from the US. (1 language, high CPM)
- share 50% of in-game ads income for developers.
- Big brand containing tens of websites with over 30 millions monthly visits.
- Strong brand with thousands of games
- One of the biggest websites within browser games industry
- provides complex services, such as user authentication, data saving, achievements, leaderboards, in-game ads, and so on.
- Possibility to build a community around games and work with it via forum
2.4 Other websites which were not much visible in past months, but we cannot forget them: Kongregate, Newgrounds, Armorgames, Spilgames, Miniclip
3. Game Distribution according to GameArter
We are thinking about the system of game distribution as described in points 1 and 2 as an obsolete system unsustainable in time. We see there predominance of disadvantages for developers. Here are few of our points:
- Share of income for publishers. Sharing income makes sense. It can reduce money needed for marketing. However, share for publishers must be solved effectively. Providing a static share from income provided by a platform is not a promotion of individual games, but of the platform as a whole.
- Most of the income must go to the developer. Developer always hold the biggest costs and risks. There is no need to pay back the time spent with the development, but also for additional promotion costs (CPC campaigns, influencers, branding) and a bag of money for development for next, better game.
- Solving more versions of 1 game (individually for every website) does not make sense due to increased costs for managing the versions. There must be a possibility to control and individualize games for all websites from one place.
- Clashes between various versions of same games. Big problem from the view of player as well as developer. Players can be confused due to do-not shared storage of their progress data. Although they still play one game, they have different data in it depending on a website where they play. Developers have a problem with possibility of decreased incomes. Webmasters always prefer the most interesting version for them — usually without ads, with more-friendly outgoing links brand and other aspects for them.
Solution: GameArter tool for game management
GameArter's goal is to complete SDK and services implementable into one version of game which would allow to run the game at any website or platform under configuration set and adjustable at a distance from GameArter system. By current date, we have it ready and fully functional for web-based games created in Unity. Extension for export on other platforms (Google play, App store) is planned for next year. SDK for HTML5 games could come by the end of this year.
- Share ratio: 70% + individual bonuses
- One version of the game for all websites. Individualization of games for websites is possible via a dashboard where a developer can customize brand which a game is carrying, fully customize ads (type, frequency, providers…), adjust available modules (discussions, videos, sharing, other games to play…)
- Backend services necessary for every bigger game (user authentication, data management, data protection, achievements, leaderboards, ingame-purchases, property management and so on. See more in documentation.
- Ads with one of highest CPMs in the market
- Natively implemented analytics
- fully automatic system. Instant game updates - matter of one click.
- tools for communication with players, tools for reporting bugs
- tools for building a brand
- community Slack
GameArter's big role is also in a post-release process. The main point we are focused on is a user retention — the key which decides on success. It is not possible to bring new users endlessly, the number of returning users should ideally grow. The sad fact is, that this is not happening in a case of most browser games. GameArter is optimizing its gameplayer and services to keep out-of-game user losses (time of loading, crashes…) as low as possible and provides tools to track user losses during gameplay. User's behavior in the game can be tracked via 3-rd party analytics tools or saved users-game data. In a matter of increasing number of returning visits, GameArter tool provides option to reward users for achieving specific milestones (certain number of visits of a game in a time), compete with other users via leaderboards and tournaments (upcoming social layer), or by an internal goal of a user to achieve specific weapon or achievement in a game. Customization of all these metrics is possible dynamically on basis of current data, directly in GameArter system.
GameArter considers brand contained in games as a marketable unit. Developer must have an option to select what brand he wants to have in his game and for what price. We applied it into the practice. Currently, native brand of games released with GameArter.com is a brand of PacoGames.com website. This website pays developers of the games for incoming users at the web as well as provides them with various bonuses. GameArter has no share from these additional incomes for developers.
Besides it, GameArter is working on a new website which will help build developers' brand and will bring new ways of promotion and additional monetization.
Rewards for Publishers (not ready yet):
As mentioned in point 3.1, rewards for publishers makes sense, but only as a goal-based rewards . Therefore, we are going to condition rewards by a goal need to be achieved. Typically number of gameplays, playing time and so on.
Continuous monitoring of functionality:
Functionality of games is a matter of course. To be able to achieve this, GameArter games and services are monitored 24/7.
Related article: Do we need game distribution?