Games Community Group meeting - TPAC 2020

Andrzej Mazur - Web Monetization
20 October 2020

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Hello, my name is Andrzej Mazur and I would like to tell you a little bit about web monetization in HTML5 games.

W3C Games workshops

I will start with telling a little bit about the W3C games workshop that happened last year, where I was giving a short talk called Indie Perspective on web games, where I was talking about how Indian developers create their games and what are their main struggles. I was comparing the year 2011 with 2019 because the previous W3C workshop happened in 2011, and since then the game development came a long way.

And where I was asking developers what are their main struggles, there were many tech related answers but two of them were repeated the most, which were discoverability and monetization. And those were the issues that were mentioned the most.

Web Monetization in JS13K competition

Right after my talk I was approached by the Coil folks who told me about the web monetization API, and I found that really cool and really interesting and I decided to try that and experiment with web monetization. Two years, sorry two months later already, there was a web monetization category in the JS13K games competition I'm organizing since 2012 every year. It is an online competition for HTML5 game developers where they create a game in 13 kilobytes. That is quite a challenge. And we had 48 web monetized entries submitted to the competition out of 245 I think. And the overall sentiment was very positive. People were really excited about the monetization. They really enjoyed trying that in their competition entries. And we also have another year, like the second web monetization category this year, in JS13K games already.

And two months after the competition ended, we visited London for the Mozilla festival where we had MozFest Arcade which was a booth showcasing web monetized games from both my own studio Enclave Games and from the JS13K games competition from developers who submitted their games to the web monetization category of that competition. And people visiting the booth were really excited to see an interesting concept of playing the game and then seeing the authors are paid some micro amounts of money in real time. We had a second like separate monitor with the account balance showing a small increase every time somebody was playing the game.

Grant for the Web program

And it was also the time when the Grant for the Web program started or was announced. And that's a program led by Coil, in cooperation with Mozilla and Creative Commons, in which $100 million will be given away in the span of five years to developers that want to experiment with the web monetization API and ways content creators can earn money from their creators creations on the web. I was lucky enough to be awarded with a grant so you can expect lots of things coming from Enclave Games as we will be creating some games, some tutorials about web monetization, but you can also expect web monetization to appear in some of our initiatives like the mentioned JS13k Games Competition, or the Gamedev.js community.

There are more games related projects that were awarded with a grant, for example the Defold folks are doing a web monetization challenge that will run for a month. It's an online jam. Richard Davey the creator of Phaser is also awarded a grant to ensure the work on implementing web monetization plugins within the framework. And there are many more many more games of related projects coming. So you can really expect more. And the more web monetization mixing with HTML5 game development.

Web Monetization proposal

Okay so what is actually web monetization? So this is a proposal for a W3C standard, for a JavaScript browser API which allows sending money from one point to the other, between the browser and the website. And to have your website monetized all you have to do is add the monetization meta tag, which points at a pin payment pointer, which is like your virtual wallet. And the best thing about web monetization is that this payment pointer points at a wallet which can receive funds instantly and immediately. So whenever your monetized website is visited by someone who is a paying subscriber, or a paying member, which I'm going to mention in a minute, you will receive funds immediately. And this screen was actually showed at the MozFest Arcade booth, where people are playing and actually seeing the money flowing directly to the wallet.

Right now the tool wallet providers are upholds and GATEHUB. I can expect more companies offering their wallets in the near future. And there is also Coil who offers the service of becoming a paid member who will be able to visit websites and stream money to them. And it works like a gym membership. If you pay five bucks a month, when you visit a monetized website, the author of that website will be paid for every second you spend on that website playing games or reading content or doing whatever there is to do.

So from the developer point of view, it would be great to detect those active subscribers, paying members, and offer something extra for them. For this, you can check the monetization state. If it says started then you can do something. Instead of this, you can also do this through one event that tells you when the monetization actually starts, and you can do something about it. And by something I mean offering some content to the visitors to thank them for being paying members. Because for every second they spend on your website, you are paid some money.

I think the best part about this is that you can work on your own features within the game. That will be offered to the paying subscribers and can be: separate new levels or extra points or coins to spend in the store, some unique weapons etc, etc.

Also the cool part about this is that we can get rid of adverts. You won't be needing to deal with privacy issues, companies spying on users, playing our games with the ads and those companies selling the data. This can be totally thrown away out the window and we can focus on only sending money through web monetization.

This also has some benefits compared to classic publishing with publishers, classic publishing of the games, because usually when implementing, some SDK or API of publishers to show up ads or something like that, the code is usually complicated and there's a lot of efforts to do that while with web monetization, it's all about adding a meta tag, checking if the user is monetized and then everything else is basically our own code.

And instead of waiting months for reports, which happens way too often, the money streams in real time directly to our wallets. So that's pretty amazing.

I think that's it. I encourage you to learn more about web monetization. To me, it feels like this is finally the native way of monetizing the content on the web. And I'm gonna invest all my time and efforts into experimenting with that. And I hope you will too. If you have any questions please reach out. I'm more than happy to talk. Thank you.