It has been 5 months since the release of our Game Web Monetization Plugin. Billed as "an easy-to-use Web Monetization Plugin for HTML5 game frameworks, including Phaser and Pixi" we released it in April 2021. Although this final report is shockingly overdue, the time span has at least given us some insight into adoption of the plugin since then.
Our objectives were as follows:
- To release the Game Web Monetization Plugin.
- To publish a comprehensive tutorial on using the plugin.
- To translate the tutorial into Spanish and Chinese.
- To help promote the plugin.
We completed all of these tasks in April 2021, although the promotion has of course been on-going since then.
This was our main area of focus. We spent a good amount of time developing the plugin, writing the documentation and creating an example game to give developers the best chance possible at learning how to web monetize their games.
The plugin and all related material was published fully-open source, under the MIT license, to GitHub.
You can find it all at: https://github.com/photonstorm/gamewebmonetization.
I am very happy with the plugin. The API is clean and consistent, it's really easy to use and we provided plenty of details and instructions on implementation.
The plugin comes with full build scripts, so developers can run a simple npm command and it builds the plugin for them using ESBuild. We provide a modern ES module and also a CommonJS bundle in the distribution, covering all possible development bases.
In the GitHub repository we also included all of the original markdown files that were created as part of the tutorial. You'll also find the source code for the 3 Candies game that demonstrates use of the plugin.
We knew from the start that the plugin on its own, even fully documented, wouldn't be enough. So we also wrote a detailed 7-part tutorial all about how to get started and use the plugin in your games. Although the game we created for the tutorial was written in Phaser, the tutorial itself was framework agnostic and works with any HTML5 game framework, such as Pixi or MelonJS.
You can find the tutorial here: https://phaser.io/tutorials/game-web-monetization but we also included the original markdown files inside the GitHub repository, as well.
The Spanish translation was handled in-house by one of our developers, Francisco Pereira Alvarado, which was really good because he knew the technical aspects of the plugin inside-out, so understood how to phrase the translation perfectly.
The Chinese translation was created by a translation company based in the UK that we worked with. They were paid to translate the tutorial, using some of the funds from the Grant for the Web.
Both translations went live in April 2021.
At the time of release we featured the plugin heavily on our web site, in Twitter, in our Patreon Developer Log posts and in our newsletter. As anticipated this saw a good influx of developers at the beginning.
We were serving about 800 tutorial views a day at its peak. Over time, however, this has reduced down. We still get views of the tutorial every day but not as many as at the start.
In terms of translations, English was the most popular tutorial, however Spanish was second, with just over 15% reading the Spanish version instead.
Chinese didn't factor very highly in the stats. It's possible they either prefer to translate it themselves from the English version, or that we just don't have enough Chinese developers interested in this subject yet.
Although a little delayed starting, we completed everything we wanted to do. And, I believe, we did it as well as we could have done. I'm very pleased with the quality of the plugin, documentation, tutorial and example game.
We didn't even plan to create a game as part of our proposal! This was just something we did organically as it became evident it was going to be the best way to demonstrate use of the plugin.
The game was fun to build and hopefully was a good incentive to get more developers to look at the plugin. I believe that without it, we would have had less traffic overall.
I'm very pleased with the quality of the plugin, as well. The code is modern, clean and easy to follow, with good documentation for every single part of it. We didn't cut any corners or leave any stone unturned.
Also, I'm pleased that we managed to reach thousands of developers since launch. However, the recent drop-off goes to show that sustained promotion is required to keep the interest high.
Or, it's possible that once they had actually read about it, the developers concluded that web monetization wasn't for them at that point in time. As visits to both the Phaser site and GitHub are entirely anonymous it's impossible for us to truly know the reasons.
At the very least we have sown the seed of web monetization education in to a lot of people. Perhaps when the technology standardises, they will return to investigate it again? I believe that on-going promotion of the concept as a whole, such as that undertaken by Andrzej and the stellar work he does on JS13K, are what is needed to keep the bubble of an idea alive in the minds of web game developers, while we wait for the W3C process to conclude.
They've got the resources, they've got the knowledge, they now just need the reason to dive in.
In terms of what we could have done better: Communication. I can only apologise to Chris, Erika and the others for our often months of radio silence as we worked on the next stage.
We are deep in development of Phaser 4.0.0. It is a complete rewrite of Phaser, from the ground-up, using modern web technology. Although not part of our proposal, we plan to make sure that Phaser 4 has full support for web monetization built in to it from day 1.
We will also still continue to promote the plugin and respond to any issues or questions we may get about it.
In hindsight, it would have been worth trying to get some other game frameworks onboard with this, such as Defold or Unreal.
Although doing so was completely outside the scope of our proposal, I honestly believe it would help cement the idea of the web monetization ecosystem, as a whole, in the minds of more game developers.
The reach of Phaser to web game devs is good, really good, but we're still only a fraction of game devs as a whole, and that's really important. When developers see lots of people talking about tech in their social channels, they're far more likely to take notice of it.
I'm very glad we were able to be a part of this project, and I thank the Grant for the Web team for allowing us to be so (even if we did cause them headaches along the way!).
I believe it's now up to the browser vendors to make web monetization a reality for the masses. The spec is progressing through the W3C. It's taking a while, but that is to be expected.
Once it matures and we see it start to ship in major browsers, that will be an undeniable shift in perspective. Developers will really start to take notice and, thankfully, our plugin will be there, ready and waiting for them!