Product Development May 28, 2020

Why I made a browser game instead of Steam/Mobile game?

flukeshot

@Keuxdi asked me why did I make a browser game and not an app game or Steam game?

The answer is simple.

I have tried making Steam/Mobile games in the past. It is too damn saturated.

Those platforms are too saturated, only the best games break through now. Gone are the days of getting your game onto Steam and that meaning you might get some visibility or sales. Building a game is part of it, but now audience building is actually the true MVP skill to engage in. And it is a lot easier to build an audience if your game looks amazing. But realistically, I'm not the Michelangelo of games, I can't compete with the amazing art and game designs these Indies are cranking out these days.

Plus, as any IHer who has done it will tell you, audience building is damn hard work that happens slowly over a long time. I wanted to build something quickly!

The same sort of thing is happening with the Google Play store, there is so much competition that organic growth is basically a lottery ticket and paid user acquisition is now the norm when launching mobile games. I don't have the money to drop on paying for users.

So why browser games?

With old browsers finally dying out and given the features of the modern browsers there has been a technical opportunity to make impressive browser games for some time now.

Once again we are not early to the party, great browser games already exist. But, we are also not overly late either. There is no significant gate-keeper, like Steam's algorithm, nor is there a ridiculous amount of competition. I was able to get 120K+ people play my game just by posting to the popular web gaming portals. It didn't cost me money. I didn't have any existing audience. I didn't even have a very good thumbnail tbh.

So, tldr; it is easy to get exposure making web games right now. This will obviously change as it gets more crowded.

My game: https://golfroyale.io

  1. 2

    Browser games are great for users, but, after working in a startup for 2.5 years on curvefever.pro I have to warn you that monetizing a browser game is incredibly hard. Unless your game becomes as big as agar.io you have little chance of making decent money ($1k+/mo) out of it.

    I think releasing the game on Steam would give you a lot more revenue, even though you consider the Steam market saturated, the browser-games market is even more staurated and it has always been (flash games).

    1. 1

      I have launched on Steam, trust me when I say it is more saturated. Certainly in terms of quality and competition anyway. I will give you an example of why I thought web-games were not as saturated.

      My friend from university is the creator of krunker.io and moomoo.io - definitely he was extremely lucky and did it at the right time but now he is driving around in Bentleys, haha. He did that as a two-man team.

      I do agree that potentially you can make more money on Steam, but again, the quality of competition is extremely high.

      I think with web-games you gotta knock them out quick, we launched after 3.5 months dev. Moomoo.io launched after 1 month dev time.

      Steam, in general (of course there are exceptions), is a dead-end for indies unless you are extremely talented and actively engage in audience building from day 1.

      Unfortunately I am not extremely talented, haha.

      I don't disagree about making money from them though, it is tough unless you can get that massive traffic, I have made only about $400EUR since launch.

      https://www.indiehackers.com/post/how-much-money-i-made-serving-ads-to-120k-users-on-my-free-game-d221dc674c

      1. 2

        Krunker.io and moomoo.io look really cool :)

      2. 2

        The thing with our game, is that we made a Steam-quality game for the web. And the resources it takes to make such a game are way more than how much the web game can make unless it goes really viral.

        I think the secret to make big money with .io games is to make A LOT of low quality ones until you get lucky with one that gets viral. It's a lot better than working on a single one and polishing it until it's good. Once one of them starts to take of, you can focus on it.

        I think in your case it is hard with Steam, as there are already other similar games with a much higher quality and community behind (Golf With Friends).

        1. 1

          "I think the secret to make big money with .io games is to make A LOT of low quality ones until you get lucky with one that gets viral. It's a lot better than working on a single one and polishing it until it's good. Once one of them starts to take of, you can focus on it."

          This ^^ 100% agree.

  2. 2

    Great insight! Quick questions:

    • What was the tech stack you used? (Curious especially on the multiplayer side - or are you using bots?)
    • Are you building an audience now that you published on web? Couldn't you use this audience to now launch on steam?
    1. 1

      I discuss my stack here: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/what-tools-did-i-use-to-make-my-io-game-f1dd84256c

      I am building an audience through this game, my Discord has a small group of hardcore fans in it and I hope I can bring them with me to the next thing :)

  3. 1

    I have never had any issues on the shops, which I found using the https://www.cdkeysforgames.com/games/battle-net-games/world-of-warcraft-shadowlands/. I've bought games and in game currency for different PC games and have always received by purchase within just a few minutes. Everything is usually a few dollars cheaper than if I were to buy it some place else, which is one of the biggest reasons I shop on the sites, which are there.

  4. 1

    Krunker has approx 17 Mil. monthly visits. Over 70% of them are direct. How is he driving traffic to the game? Any ideas?

    1. 1

      A simple strategy, you've likely heard of it.

      Product-market fit.

      Sure he launched on the web portals just like I did, but the audience that plays these multiplayer web games (i.e. male 12-18, school kids) really loved Krunker.

      When the customer loves your product, like really loves it, they will share it for you. The Krunker community makes YouTube videos, Streams the game on Twitch, and posts on the Krunker subreddit. The game's discord server, the Krunker Bunker, alone has nearly 200K members. Insane!

      Krunker has reached a critical mass where the players have started sharing and marketing the game through word of mouth for him.

      On top of all that, the game is competitive and he has actively nurtured the game as an e-sport, at times funding cash prizes for Krunker e-sports tournaments. From conversations with him I get the impression that this has enabled him to grow his player base and tap into the already existing pool of hardcore FPS gamers (i.e. counterstrike fans).

      All these factors, combined with players who genuinely love playing the game, it is basically word of mouth and they just keep coming back because the game is constantly improving - it is a huge effort on his part.

      1. 1

        Yeah, the game is good. I agree on that. Even I played it for a while :) User onboarding is very easy, you can start playing anytime and u r hooked immediately. There is another browser-based game called Seaport from Pixel Federation. They started with the browser version and then later added another client that was Android.

        Their game is integrated with Facebook and they are doing pretty good with their browser version.

        1. 1

          For Krunker, I know he added a desktop client that is just an electron app that loads the site. The main technical reason was to allow players to bypass the 60fps cap imposed by the browser vendors, but a nice bonus is it counts as a lot of direct traffic to the site too :)

  5. 1

    This is really interesting. Maybe I should continue to work on the web game I made a little while agoo....

  6. 1

    Always bet on the web 😁

  7. 1

    So...

    What's the game?

  8. 1

    I'm glad this worked out for you. I would argue that the gatekeeper of browser games is google's ranking algorithm. But it sounds like you avoided it by posting on some web portals. Can you share where you posted? Could you instead post steam games there? (that would solve the steam problem you mentioned above, wouldn't it?)

    1. 1

      Yeah for continued growth definitely Google's algorithm is my new gate keeper. However, less than 1% of my 120K players came from organic search so the web portals are significant.

      "Could you instead post steam games there? [to the web portals]" - No. The audience of those web game portals (and the webmasters) want games they can play in the browser.

      I discuss the top 10 web portals I used in this milestone: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/golf-royale/how-we-got-120k-total-players-and-5k-accs--M8NPv4qvdUnfedYGWXw

  9. 1

    It's funny I was thinking about this the other day!

    My first dabble in programming was making a couple of really awful games in ActionScript to post on New Grounds and I was wondering if the trend may start heading back to browser games because of accessibility and how far browser technology has come.

    Is there a framework for modern browser game development you recommend?

    1. 1

      You can easily export Unity games to the browser using WebAssembly if you need. Otherwise I highly recommend Pixi.js for rendering and then just writing your game code with TypeScript.

      1. 1

        cool, appreciate the suggestion!

    2. 1

      I discuss my stack here: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/what-tools-did-i-use-to-make-my-io-game-f1dd84256c

      The actual graphics framework I used is called BabylonJS. Though PlayCanvas and ThreeJS are also options.

      1. 1

        awesome, I'll give that a read, thanks!

  10. 1

    This is really good insight, it totally makes sense those other markets are so saturated. They sort of left browser games behind but realistically browser games had so much going for them. Love your posts, thanks!