How I made my first 600$ on game dev
My entry, Hang by a Thread, won the web monetization category in the 2022 js13kgames annual game jam. First price was 600$
Updated: Jul 22, 2023
Published: Jul 18, 2023
js13kgames is an annual game competition where you create a game in under 13KB! Every year, they offer several prices for different categories. You have a good chance of winning if you choose to embrace them. In 2022, my game, Hang by a Thread, won the web monetization category with a cash price of 600$. At this point, I could finally call myself a professional game developer.
The rules for the Web Monetization category are fairly simple. Include the meta tag in your website's
<!DOCTYPE html> <html lang="en"> <head> <meta name="monetization" content="$ilp.uphold.com/paymentpointer"> </head> <body></body> </html>
To get the unique payment pointer, we needed to create a wallet at Uphold, and register it on Coil's website, which unfortunately had to shut down in 2023. Interledger will take over for Coil, and we'll see what they have in future of web monetization.
Web monetization is a way to earn income on your home page by having users subscribing to Coil, and under the hood make micro payments for the duration of the user's stay. The beauty of it is that a user can subscribe to Coil for 5$ a month (price at that time) and will then get all the extra bonus content from all developers and content creators who implements the web monetization technology.
Though the rules are simple, the implementation needs special care to make sure you make the most out of it.
How to make the most of web monetization
The reason I won the challenge was because I was able to tick most of the boxes the judges were looking for, and I will tell you what I did to earn those 600$. There are some important points to consider when adding web monetization which I will outline in this blog post.
The 80/20 rule. What are subscribers paying for?
First, we need to make sure the player is aware that our game supports web monetization. Create a hook to make it obvious what subscribers are getting, and that it's worth 5$ a month. In my game, I had a button in the main menu, "Bonus content." When you click that button, you'll be presented with a screen that says "Subscribe to Coil for more hats.", and a library of hats. Yes, that's right, you can wear hats in my game!
The screen clearly shows which hats are available for all players, and which hats are available to Coil subscribers. It's important to give the player a sneak peak at the feature so they know what they are getting. That's why some hats are available to everyone. This is similar to battle passes in games such as Fortnite and Hearthstone. You could even make a battle pass in your game that are available to users who have a Coil subscription. Remember, the core of the game needs to be available to everyone. Give all players 80% of the game, and the extra 20% to players paying for the subscription.
Call to action
One important thing that most other entries forgot was the "call to action button." Many games followed the 80/20-rule, but forgot to add a button to redirect the player to actually pay for the Coil subscription. I have a large button which says "Subscribe to Coil for more hats," which brings the user to the Coil website, with more information about it, and how they can support developers and content creators like yourself.
Not only do you give the subscribers the content they pay for, but it's also good to be thankful for the players actually supporting you. In my game, if the player is a Coil subscriber, I also write a "Thank you"-message. This will make sure the player better understands that they actually got some bonus content for being a supporter, and that you are grateful for it.
Consider the following scenario. A player is already a Coil subscriber, they play your game for the first time, and have access to all bonus content. However, it's not obvious that they got access to the bonus content because they are Coil subscribers. Adding a "Thank you for being a Coil subscriber" message will help with that.
Doing the above helped me place first in the category. It came as a surprise when it was announced, and I was thrilled and excited. If you decide to participate in the js13kgames, which I think you should, please consider the points I've mentioned if they have similar challenges. Here are some of the web monetization category winners from previous years as well