Gamesbeat 2011: HTML5 Gaming Is The Future

Thousands gathered in Palace Hotel in SF for Mobilebeat 2011 and Gamesbeat 2011 to learn and discuss the future of games. The pressing question: When does HTML5 become significant? To better answer that question, we'll take a look at some nuances and companies experimenting with HTML5 today.

Thousands gathered in Palace Hotel in SF for Mobilebeat 2011 and Gamesbeat 2011 to learn and discuss the future of games. The pressing question: When does HTML5 become significant? To better answer that question, we’ll take a look at some nuances and companies experimenting with HTML5 today. More after the jump.

HTML5’s progressive path to ubiquity doesn’t confer it with any special abilities, but many companies are embracing the open web earlier on. We heard talks from the CEO of German-based PlaySocial, a service that provides mobile game developers a unified distribution API to connect to various mobile social networks on the open web instantly. Think of them as the Viximo of mobile.  Although its a bit early on, game developers will need to think about the open web since the fate of walled gardens has been, in the past, not so great.

Others that will be embracing HTML5 based games include game portals, developers and aggregators like Spil Games, who mostly have flash content at the moment but recognize that in 2 yrs HTML5 will be the way to go.  There is also Mocospace which we’ve covered in the past that is a full fledged mobile gaming network on the open web and fully HTML5 based. Mocospace reported ARPPU of $13/month in Nov 2010. ISome more stats about Mocospace:

•    Web-based, and HTML5
•    20 million users to which MocoSpace provides a place to have fun, play games and meet new people.
•    90% of users from US with a 50/50 split.
•    Most users 18-34 with avg. of 25 yr olds.
•    Games and chat/IM are most populat activities (whereas in Facebook it’s games and Photos)
•    Monetization similar to Facebook and even higher (ARPU of over $1 has been observed in Mocospace)
•    Members play mobile social games more than 1 million hours per day collectively.
•    Total smartphone userbase is: 20M

Apple has doubled down on native apps and Facebook’s project spartan aims to bypass native apps altogether by embracing users through their browsers. Facebook plans on offering many tools to developers to them get them running on HTML5. Google has been on both sides of the coin as a torchbearer of HTML5 while hedging their bets and going native app crazy. The indie game industry for the next few years will depend heavily on in-app purchases as algorithms for rankings shift towards engagement vs downloads and freemium titles seem to be getting used the most.

The latest stats from Flurry show that there have been more developers supporting Apple in Q2 of this year than Android. As mobile devices getting stronger and faster due to higher performing chipsets, developers should remain bullish on native apps but start thinking about cross-platform gaming.

In a panel moderated by Japheth Dillman, the CEO of GameDuell alluded to the fact that we can all define cross-platform differently. Is cross-platform about playing on one gaming network against others? Is it mainly about cross-device play? Does it need to include PC’s and other major platforms/OS’s in order to be officially cross-platform? There isn’t an answer set in stone. Peter Driessen, CEO of Spilgames, and the CEO of GameDuell both felt that in 2-3 yrs from now people won’t be talking about devices, because everyone will be able to play with their friends regardless of device/platform.

People will definitely get a bigger, better assortment of games and gaming communities in the coming years. We’re going to see social gaming continue to grow in all markets. According to comScore, smartphone ownership increased 13% between the periods of November 2010-January 2011 and February 2011-April 2011. About 75 million US consumers have smartphones, with Google’s Android platform pushing north. Google devices own a 36% market share, Apple devices have a 26% share and RIM holds a 25% market share. During the same period, mobile browser usage was slightly ahead of downloaded app usage (39% versus 37%).

Most gaming companies make money from a small percentage of their users and the majority of that money is made up of an even smaller percentage of users known as whales. If game platforms on the open web can help developers retain these whales, then we may see HTML5 take off faster than we expected but for the foreseeable future flash and native apps aren’t going anywhere.