I’m often asked for examples of impressive HTML5 games, to which I typically just try to name a few off the top of my head. I figured a better approach would be to catalog some of the HTML5 games that have stood out in recent months and just point people to this as a resource. Below are 8 games that really stood out in my mind from the first 8 months of 2013.
Note that this list is not exclusive to games on the Clay.io Marketplace - fortunately for us, most of them are, but whether or not the game is on Clay.io did not factor into my choices. This also isn’t a list of demos – while there were some impressive demos in 2013, I wanted to focus on complete games.
Bombermine really took the web by storm in February. After launching to Hacker News and Reddit, dozens of news outlets quickly picked up the story and continued bringing massive traffic to the game. For those that aren’t familiar with the game, Bombermine is an incredibly fun Massively Multiplayer Online Bomberman.
Funny story, Bombermine’s Twitter account had a tweet about a game competition we were running and that tweet alone brought in 1,000 unique visitors to Clay.io. Players had to (at the time) click the “About” page, then the link to Twitter, and finally the link to our competition… 1,000 still made it through.
Treasure Arena is a game that was released about two weeks ago by Vennril. The game has some similarities to Bombermine in that you’re competing real-time against people across the globe, but in Treasure Arena, you’re competing in more intimate rooms of 4 players. If there isn’t anyone to play with, you’re setup against the CPU.
I can definitely see this game garnering the same attention that Bombermine had 6 months ago.
Super Ubie Land by Notion Games is another game released in the past two weeks, with over a year of development put into it.
The game is one of two this list that are not free – by web games in fact, it’s pretty far from free – priced at $9.99. Despite that, the game certainly has enough content to justify the price tag – packed with fun gameplay and great-looking graphics.
The Spanish studio, Deconstructeam, has been developing HTML5 games for a couple of years now, but Gods Will Be Watching was their first big hit. Contrary to all of the other games listed here, Gods Will Be Watching was a product of a 72-hour hack session for Ludum Dare.
The game is a point-and-click adventure game where you’re forced to do everything it takes to survive. It was covered by just about every large gaming news site you can think of, and the studio raised $25,000 on IndieGogo and partnered up with a publisher to develop a full-fledged version of the game.
No-one Has to Die is the outlier in this bunch in that it’s not a super-pretty game with amazing gameplay – rather, where No-one Has to Die really excels is the story. The incredible storyline is the reason this game has been played well over 1 million times across the web.
Polycraft, by wonderstruck, is probably the most polished and technically impressive game of the bunch.
Released in June, this game is a 3D tower defense game with quite a bit more behind it than a typical tower defense.
The game is from the developers of pixi.js, a rendering engine that has picked up a lot of steam in the past few months.
It’s a simple side-scroller, but what really makes the game stand out for me is its performance on mobile devices. It both looks fantastic, and performs very well on mobile phones.
It wouldn’t be a list of HTML5 games without a game from Lost Decade Games. These guys have been working with HTML5 games for longer than most have even been familiar with the term. This year they launched Lava Blade, a polished, tactical strategy RPG, as a $4.99 game ($2.99 on the Chrome Web Store).
Like Super Ubie Land, Lava Blade packs enough content to justify charging, but it’s unclear how well that model has done. People just aren’t used to paying upfront for web games. Unlike Super Ubie Land, Lava Blade works on mobile devices in addition to a desktop.
Mobile vs Desktop
With the exception of the last two games, the entire list is made up of desktop-only games. Desktop web games are great, but they’re still not taking advantage of HTML5′s great ability to work across all platforms.
There have still been quite a few great mobile HTML5 games in 2013, just none that are able to “wow” as much as the desktop-based games. If there’s enough demand, I will do a secondary post that focuses on just the mobile-friendly HTML5 games.
Most of these games were developed by one or two folks. Wonderstruck games is the one studio I’m not familiar with, but I’d venture to guess they have the most people on board.
With the exception of Polycraft, Super Ubie Land, and Lava Blade, none of these games are built for monetization. The latter two probably aren’t using the best revenue model for HTML5 games either. I would really like to see more developers put additional time into monetizing their games – ideally with in-game content/payments, but also with clever advertising.
Add Your Favorite Games
Since this list is limited to 8 games, some great ones are definitely missing – on Clay.io alone we’ve had developers add over 400 games in 2013. Feel free to add your favorites to the comments section!