How to Set Up a PC for a Web Based HTML5 Exhibition Game

Filed under: Branded Games — Simon Walklate

Why Use HTML5 For an Exhibition Game?

Web based HTML5 gives you the option of using a game across different devices at exhibitions/events. For instance you might want to set up your game on a PC with a large touch screen at one event, but scale it down to mounted iPads at another. It also gives you the added option of having a public web based version of your exhibition game with minimal changes if you wish, to help with your other marketing activities. Conversely, if you get a web based HTML5 game produced for a marketing campaign, you can easily get some slight modifications made to use it at a trade show on standard PC hardware or tablets.

There are a couple of different options for setting up a simple DIY interactive kiosk to use an HTML5 game at an exhibition, trade show or event. I’m going to try and cover the other (using mounted tablets) over the coming weeks/months. For now let’s concentrate on using a PC…

What Hardware Will I Need?

Any PC with a screen (and input devices) connected can be used to run your HTML5 game on an exhibition stand. This setup also give you the greatest flexibility. You can choose the size of screen. Anything from a modest sized desktop screen right up to a giant touch screen display built into your exhibition stand, the choice is yours. You also get a choice of input devices, usually a touch screen or joystick/gamepad for more arcade style games. Although mouse and/or keyboard is out, for reasons I’ll get to shortly (and in any case probably not right for game controls on an exhibition stand anyway).

Although most simple 2D games don’t need a state-of-the-art games machine to run, I’d always recommend you test and set up the game on the actual hardware you’ll be using at the exhibition well ahead of time. The last thing you want is to get to the trade show (with limited time on the morning of the first day) and set up for the first time. That’s asking for trouble. So make sure you take a bit of preparation time to set up your game before the event, to make sure setup is stress free on the day.

Remove Physical Access to Hardware

The PC itself and any physical peripherals/input devices that would allow players to quit out of your game should not be accessible. Move them out of the way, lock them away, whatever you have to do. Any input devices and peripherals (anything players don’t need or shouldn’t have access to) should be disconnected from the PC altogether, where possible. If you need to connect a mouse and/or keyboard to set the game up on the PC, only connect when you need them and disconnect again afterwards. The only input devices accessible to the public should be the ones that they need to play the game (usually either a touch screen or gamepad/joystick).

It’s also worth mentioning that any gamepads or joysticks you intend to use, should have some sort of secure mount on your exhibition stand. The last thing you want is for your controller to go walkies 10 minutes into the first day.

Use a Clean, Dedicated Machine

I’d also strongly recommend that you use a machine with a fresh, up-to-date install of Windows. Again it’s about stripping the PC down to the bare minimum that’s needed to run the game. No extra software that’s surplus to requirements should be installed.

Under no circumstances should you use a regular in-use work PC for this. If a player does somehow manage to get out of the game and get access to Windows, you don’t want them having access to all your sensitive files.

Windows 10 is ideal, as it’s best equipped to set up and use touch screens and lock down the operating system for HTML5 games. Once we get to the details of setting up Windows, we’ll be assuming we’re working with Windows 10.

Don’t Forget Power

Obviously, you need to make sure the PC you have the game set up on has sufficient power as well. If you’re running all day, just a laptop with one battery pack isn’t going to do it. You’ll need either mains power or sufficient battery packs to last the duration.

Also, make sure any wireless, rechargeable input devices have sufficient charge to last the duration of each day of the trade show and you’re able to recharge them in the evening. If you’re using a gamepad or joystick that needs charging, make sure it’s fully charged and consider having another fully charged spare on hand just in case.

Internet Connection

Usually you’ll need a live internet connection on the PC you’ll be running your web based HTML5 game on. Features like scoreboards, data capture forms etc. usually rely on server-side scripts and storage. So again, check in advance that you’ll get access to Wi-Fi at the exhibition, if not you’ll need to organise some other way to set up your game at the exhibition.

It doesn’t generally need to be particularly fast (for scoreboards and data capture we’re talking about transferring tiny amounts of data), but it does need to be there and not dropping out all the time.

Running in Full Screen Mode

You’ll need a full screen mode button incorporating into the exhibition version of your game to enable this mode via the HTML5 fullscreen API. We do this anyway in all the web based HTML5 games we create and it’s fairly easy for your developer to add one.

You’ll also need the exhibition version of your HTML5 game to automatically disable any in-game buttons you don’t want players to have access to while playing in full screen mode. The most important being the full screen button (so once the game is up and running in full screen mode players can’t quit out of it). You might also want to consider disabling any settings controls, pause and mute buttons to keep the game running consistently throughout.

Stopping Players Accessing the Operating System

You need to make sure your PC is set up properly to lock it down. Otherwise players will be able to exit out of your game into Windows to mess with things they shouldn’t. On PC this will require changing some Windows setting and utilising Google Chrome’s “Kiosk Mode”.

Again, once you’ve locked the machine down, test thoroughly to make sure there are no ways to quit out of the game using any of the input devices that will be accessible to players.

Setting up Windows 10

Google Chrome Kiosk Mode

I’d recommend using Google Chrome to run your HTML5 game at a trade show. It provides the best support for touch screens and other input devices and avoids some quirks that make some of the other browsers less than ideal for running an HTML5 game at an exhibition or event. It also provides a built in Kiosk Mode. This allows you to set up a shortcut to open your game directly in windowless browser mode.

First of all you’ll need to download and install the latest version of Chrome, if you don’t already have it.

Right click in a directory where you want to store your game shortcut and select New -> Shortcut.

Click “Browse” and find the Google Chrome program file (usually at “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe”) then click “Next”.

Give the shortcut a name, then click “Finish”.

Right click the shortcut you’ve just created and select “Properties”.

Edit the “Target” field and put –kiosk followed by the web address of your game, after the last quote marks of the existing text and click “OK”. So it should read something like…

“C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” — kiosk http://www.thedomain.com/the-exhibition-game-url/

Double click the shortcut icon to open Google Chrome in Kiosk Mode, automatically opening the game page, which you can then full screen (via the in-game full screen button). You’ll need to press Alt-F4 on a keyboard to quit Chrome while in Kiosk Mode, but once it’s up and running you hopefully shouldn’t need to.

Disable Screen Edge Swipe Functions

Windows 10 has built in functions that occur when you swipe at the edges of the screen (including opening Task View, dragging in the “Action Center” sidebar etc.) You need to disable these, otherwise players will be able to quit out of the game or get into PC settings.

This setting isn’t available in the standard Windows settings and requires a quick registry change. You can either (create and) set the key manually (not recommended), or download and run these handy registry files to quickly enable/disable this feature. In case you’re interested, the relevant registry key is:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\EdgeUI] “AllowEdgeSwipe” – set to 0.

Either way you’ll need to restart Windows for the changes to take effect and you should be able to test afterwards that the edge swipe functions no longer work.

It’s also worth mentioning that messing with the registry can do bad things to a Windows install. So don’t change anything but this one key. This is yet another reason to use a dedicated machine with a fresh Windows install to run your game and again, set this up ahead of time. You really don’t want to be making registry changes on an important work machine if you can help it.

Turn Off Action Center Notifications

Action Center is a new feature built into Windows 10 that allows installed software to deliver mobile-like push notifications, as well as giving easy access to certain Windows settings. This can be useful on a standard machine, but these are often clickable (taking the user into the relevant program or settings) and can be distracting. For these reasons we need to make sure we disable these notifications, to stop them popping up over our game. To do this:

Open Windows Settings, by selecting the cog icon.

Select “System”.

Select “Notifications & Actions” from the list on the left. Under the main “Notifications” heading, on the right, you’ll see a list of notification permission toggles. You need to make sure all of these are switched off. Otherwise pop-up, clickable notifications will allow players to click away from the game.

There’s also a long list of program specific notification toggles below. The top toggle we’ve just switched off (labelled “Get notifications from apps and other senders”) should have automatically disabled these (greying them out), but just double check these are all disabled as well.

Switch Off Sleep Mode

This is worth doing to make sure the game keeps running continuously and the computer doesn’t hibernate if it’s left idling. The last thing you want is for the screen the go black every few minutes, if no one is playing your game in that time.

Go into Windows Settings, “System” again.

Click “Power & Sleep” on the left and switch both “Screen” and “Sleep” to “Never” via the drop-downs.

Put Windows Into Tablet Mode

This is necessary to make sure the on screen keyboard appears when you select a text entry form (such as a scoreboard entry form) on a touch screen. However, even if you’re not using a touch screen it’s worth switching to tablet mode anyway because it helps with locking out access to features such as the Windows task bar when you’re running your game at the exhibition.

The easiest way to toggle this on/off is to open “Action Center” by clicking the square speech bubble icon in the bottom right of the Windows task bar. Then just press the “Tablet Mode” button to toggle it on/off.

You’re All Set

You now have everything set up to use your HTML5 game at an exhibition or event. Players should be totally locked into the game, taking up the full screen area, so you shouldn’t be able to tell it’s a web based HTML5 game either.

Are You Ready for the End of the Flash Browser Plug-In in 2020?

Filed under: Web — Simon Walklate

The End is Nigh

It’s been on the cards for a number of years now, with Adobe essentially giving up on getting the Flash plug-in onto mobile devices some time ago and embracing HTML5. In fact it seems like forever since we’ve created any Flash based content for the web. But now the deadline of the end of 2020 has been announced. After this date Flash content will cease to work in the web browser.

The major browser vendors are also following this same timeline, in phasing out access to Flash content. Even the ones that have incorporated Flash technology directly into their browsers (removing the need for a plug-in installation) are not exempt. So there will be no continued support for Flash beyond 2020 in Google Chrome either, despite there being no need for the Flash plugin-in there.

This really is the end of the road for web based Flash. No web based Flash content will work after the cut-off.

That gives you three short years to plan and execute the conversion of your Flash based content to HTML5. Either convert it, or lose it after Flash is gone.

What Content is Affected?

Short answer is anything on the web that requires the installation of the Adobe Flash plugin.

Any remaining Flash content you care about is likely to be anything you consider “evergreen”. It’ll still get enough traffic/use to justify it’s existence and ultimately the time, effort and budget to convert and keep it. This could be:

  • Marketing content – Any web based multimedia content that helps drive traffic or get links/social shares. This could be anything from a simple interactive widget to a complex web based game.
  • Training/e-learning content – Web based multimedia content either for conducting training programmes as part of your business needs to be addressed.

Basically, any Flash content that is useful/entertaining to your users, that isn’t time specific and still provides value to your business, should be prioritised. Especially if you have lots of content that you need to keep, starting to audit and planning for content update and replacement is essential now.

The End of Flash Games

This will also mean the end of an era in web games development. Any web based games built in Flash will need to be converted and replaced or taken down before the deadline.

This might not sound like a huge big deal, but it is. Most of the big games companies on Facebook are still to this day using Flash based versions of their games for desktop computer users. These will need to go through the potentially expensive and time consuming process of being converted to HTML5, or taken down.

This doesn’t just apply to big games companies though. If you’ve had any Flash based games developed in the past now is the perfect time to start planning to get them converted. Building a brand new version using modern web standards also gives you a great opportunity for an update/redesign to raise the quality of any dated games.

A Great Opportunity to Finally Go Mobile Compatible

If you’ve been putting off the conversion process, now is a great time to think again. Converting Flash content to HTML5 will future-proof it for years to come and finally allow mobile users to access your content on their devices. This will further increase the reach and ultimately value of your content.

Budget and Time

Obviously, the more Flash content you want to keep, after the deadline, the more time and budget you’re going to need. This is why you must start assessing and planning now. If you have lots of content to convert, it could be a monumental task. Don’t put it off until 6 months before, because there may not be time then to get the work done. Also, if you start now, you’ve got three years to spread the cost over.

Does This Affect Adobe AIR?

There’s been a fair amount of confusion over the name Flash in relation to the development tools and the web based deployment platform. Because of this Adobe even rebranded the tools from “Adobe Flash Pro” to “Adobe Animate” recently. The tools will continue to exist long after Flash is gone from the web. (In fact we still use Flash Pro tools to help with animation and visual asset creation for our HTML5 games).

The Adobe AIR platform for building mobile and desktop PC apps will still exist and be updated and supported by Adobe. You’ll still essentially be able to use “Flash” technology to create stand-alone application builds for computers and mobile devices. No existing Adobe AIR based apps will be effected. It’s just the web based component that will no longer exist.

Should I Stop Creating New Flash Content?

There’s no easy answer to this. In general though (with a few exceptions), I would say you need to steer away from creating new Flash content for the Flash web player, if you haven’t already.

There are some limited instances where Flash content may still make sense in the short term though. For instance if you’re creating content with a relatively short shelf life (e.g. for a marketing campaign and needs to be accessible to older, HTML5 incompatible browsers on desktop computers only). These instances will be few and far between at this point though. So 9 times out of 10 you should use HTML5 for all new content going forward, in order to future-proof it.

What Now?

We’d highly recommended that you start thinking about and auditing any Flash content you may have ASAP. Prioritise your most valuable assets and start allocating budget to convert any critical Flash based content (that you know will definitely still be valuable to you in three years time).

Three years sounds like a long time, but it really isn’t. Especially if you have lots of Flash content, the conversion process can be extremely time consuming. So start now.

The ‘Build It and They Will Come’ Approach to Branded Games

Filed under: Branded Games — Simon Walklate

Branded games can be a great way to get huge exposure for brands, when integrated with your other marketing. The problem that I see more often than you would think (and I would like) is businesses insisting on taking the ‘build it and they will come’ approach, despite being strongly advised against it.

As with most bad ideas, it comes from a lack of knowledge and experience and it’s definitely not the client’s fault for thinking this way. People see the hype around branded games and think they’re something magical, where you build this piece of content, post it to your website and all of a sudden (by some sort of psychic link?) millions of people will suddenly know about it, visit and play it. Although branded games can be quite magical at times, in terms of just how many people they can reach, there’s nothing magical about the hard work that goes into launching one successfully.

The fact is, very little content goes truly ‘viral’, this equally applies to other forms of multimedia content such as videos. For something to be truly viral and grow in popularity exponentially, every person that sees it needs to pass it on to more than one other person, which rarely happens. If that was the case, you could literally tell just a handful of people about the content you’ve created and watch it spread out of control. In reality, banking on this is only going to lead to failure and that’s what you’re pretty much guaranteeing if you don’t do everything you can to promote a piece of content.

Now that isn’t to say producing a branded game is a waste of time and money and it’s doomed to failure from the start, far from it. They can be a brilliant hook to gain exposure within your industry, via your own marketing and PR channels. We’ve seen clients use press releases to really push their branded game and get great, targeted exposure by doing so. It goes without saying that a high quality game will serve you much better (in increased engagement, spread and ultimately exposure) than a poor game, but you need to be aware of the realities of launching a branded game. Whether it’s a game posted on your own website or on a third party platform such as Facebook or a mobile app, spending some time planning and effectively making use of all the channels at your disposal will only benefit you in the long run.

The process of launching a branded game involves getting as many eyeballs on the content as possible from the start, much the same as promoting any other piece of content. The most successful branded games we’ve produced have been successful because the client has been passionate about promoting the game and really gone the extra mile. We take care of production of a quality, engaging game, but that’s only part of the equation.

If you’re a small business without a good, targeted mailing list (and/or an extensive following on social media) and the means to promote a branded game to potentially get exposure in industry specific media then, in all honesty, a branded game (or indeed any multimedia content) may not be for you. But as long as you have those things (plus, put in the work to take advantage of them) and are able to fully integrate a game into a current marketing campaign to drive even more players, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t see good results from a branded game as an engagement tool.

I won’t go into specifics about what you should do to promote a branded game here, but it should definitely be fully integrated into your overall marketing campaign to see good results, not just left in isolation. It’s also worth noting that it’s possible to maximise your return by thinking about other ways you can use the game from the start. E.g. we’ve had clients have branded games produced for inclusion on their website, but also have a slightly modified version built to take to trade shows and events. This may increase the production costs slightly, but will allow you to maximise use of your game for a relatively small additional cost.

Long story short, to maximise exposure and return from a branded game takes some work on the client’s part. If you really make the most of the opportunity and think of creative ways to use your branded game as a promotional tool, instead of just seeing the game as the end of the process, you’ll undoubtedly reap the rewards.

Things Every Brand Should Do to Promote Their Branded Game

Filed under: Branded Games — Simon Walklate

Branded games really are the king of premium content that can help engage your audience, give your PR the hook it needs to get coverage in online and traditional media, help your SEO efforts and more. But like with any content, your branded game can be the most amazing piece ever created, but if few people know it’s there, it will fail.

Without a promotion strategy to drive a good number of players in the first instance, you’re fighting an uphill battle and will likely be disappointed with the results of even the most amazing branding game. On the other hand a good promotional strategy, implemented well, can produce great results. But it does require some work, above and beyond just producing and posting a branding game.

I’m not going to go into every single creative method you can use to promote a game, many of these are likely to be industry specific, or even specific to your particular brand. What we’re going to go after here is the low hanging fruit. The easy stuff that every brand can and should be doing as a bare minimum to promote a branded game in order to dramatically increase their chances of making it a success.

Most of them seem pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many brands fail to do even the most basic promotion and end up missing out on potentially huge amounts of exposure. Anyway, here we go:

Leverage Your Existing Audience

Existing Website Traffic

This is the most obvious one and it can make a huge difference, especially for brands that already have good amounts of traffic to their website. Promote your game with a link from your homepage (or some other high traffic page).

If it’s a web based game sitting on a page on your website, it’s not enough just to put it up and not give your visitors an easy way to find it. Same goes for a mobile app, or a game that sits on Facebook or some other external website. Link it from your homepage.

A nicely designed image link is obviously preferable, but you’d be surprised how many brands don’t even promote their game with a text link (either to the game, or games index page, if you have more than one) on a high traffic page of their website. If you don’t do this, you’re missing out on a great, extremely easy opportunity to give your branded game a promotional boost  and dramatically increase play numbers.

Social Media

I’m going to assume your business is active on social media (Twitter and Facebook at least). Anyone that’s chosen to follow you on social media is already interested in your business. So make sure you promote your branded game to them.

I should also mention, this isn’t a once and done thing. Now I’m not advocating spam, but if you have a reason to post again, do it. E.g. if you do an update to your game, tell people about it.

It also depends the social network. Twitter for instance is very much in the moment and tweets “expire” very quickly. So if you have a very active business Twitter account, why not consider promoting your game there more frequently (maybe once a week).

Mailing lists

If your business has a mailing list (email or snail mail) use it to tell people about your game. Once again, this is a prime opportunity to target people who’ve shown an interest in your business, or have even been past customers/clients. Not leveraging your mailing list to promote a branded game is a big mistake.

Integrate With Your Other Marketing Activities

A branded game usually ties in with a specific marketing campaign, yet many brands forget to cross-promote their content.

Advertising

Whether you’re a huge multi-national corporation, or a small business, I’m guessing you’re doing some sort of advertising to promote your business. Whether online or offline and no matter what the scale, why not at the very least mention the game in your other advertising? Otherwise it’s a missed opportunity to generate interest in your game and ultimately promote your business.

PR

Same goes for your PR activities. Businesses (particular smaller, less established ones) often struggle to get media coverage. Without a good hook, it can be difficult to stand out from the mountain of similar, bland press releases received by media each day.

If you have a branded game, that may very well be the hook you need to stand out from the crowd and get the coverage your business needs, and deserves to help promote your brand. Unfortunately, many brands squander this opportunity by either not doing this at all, or not doing it effectively.

Increase Your Chances of Success

Don’t be one of the businesses that takes the “Build it and They Will Come” approach and forgo these easy steps to promote their branded game. It almost never leads to success, with any form of content, however good it is.

Make sure you go through this checklist and at the very least do everything on it. But don’t stop there, I’m sure you can think of many more creative ways to promote and drive even more traffic to your branded game.

HTML5 vs Apps for Branded Mobile Games

Filed under: Branded Games — Simon Walklate

Now that we are well into the age of mobile and businesses, marketers and content creators are more often than not putting mobile first, one of the biggest dilemmas is how best to deploy branded content to make it accessible to mobile devices. This is especially true of branded games.

The two main choices for branded mobile games boil down to either using HTML5 or making it downloadable and installable as a standalone application via mobile app stores. Each have a great number of pros and cons and it’s important to be aware of the implications of choosing one over the other, when planning a new branded game.

I’m going to break down the main considerations and the advantages and disadvantages that go along with them.

Technical Considerations

HTML5 has a whole raft of technical shortcomings, when compared to apps, some specific to mobile devices, some not.

Ultimately most of the problems come down to the fact that HTML5 is browser dependent (i.e. the web browser is responsible for interpreting the code into what you see and hear on screen) and the fact you’re creating one version of you branded game to (hopefully) work everywhere.

It is getting better, but each browser has it’s own interpretation of the HTML5 standard and some browsers even ignore the standards entirely and do their own thing. This can lead to different behaviour in different browsers and browser specific bugs and issues. It also means that an update to a specific web browser could actually have an adverse effect, or even break your game in future, without you doing anything.

Using an experienced HTML5 game developer will go some way to mitigating the risk of everything going pear shaped in future, but there are no guarantees. So you need to be aware, there’s a chance you may need modifications in future, should this happen.

Although most mobile devices and tablets currently in use support the HTML5 features needed to run most mobile web games, there are still some device specific issues that may or may not be important to you. Some notable examples are:

Sound on iOS devices can’t start until after the first touch event

In practice, this means that your game will start silent on iPhones and iPads, with no background music or sound effects playing until the first time the user touches the screen (usually clicking a “play game” button on the main menu screen).

Running in true full screen mode is problematic

Between browser address bars and phone status bars you’re usually going to lose at least a small portion of the screen, unlike with an app, where it’s easy to take advantage of the full screen area. This can be especially problematic on small smartphone screens.

There is a “dead area” at the top and bottom of the screen

It’s not advisable to put any interactive elements in these areas. Touching here can cause browser navigation and address bars to reappear over content on some mobile devices. This is most problematic on iOS devices and further reduces the actual usable screen area, although a good experienced designer can usually work around this.

It’s web based

This means to play, you need a live internet connection (unlike an app, where once it’s installed you can usually play without access to the internet). In practice, this means that players on devices such as tablets, that are Wi-Fi only, or even players who’ve gone over their mobile data limits will lose access on the go.

Quality of the End Product/User Experience

This is where apps really do shine over HTML5 for branded mobile games.

Because apps are effectively a stand-alone software product and don’t exist within the confines of a web browser, they get around many of the technical limitations of web based games.

You get an end product that’s more akin to a “real” computer game, rather than just a piece of web based content. Better multimedia and sound support allow for a slicker experience. Plus, being able to go truly full screen (especially on smartphones) and being able to position interactive elements over the full area of the screen is hugely beneficial.

I should add, this doesn’t mean it’s not possible to create great branded mobile games with HTML5, on the contrary. But the fact is HTML5 imposes more restrictions on the design process and will almost always lead to a technically inferior end product to the app equivalent.

Timescale

This is a big one and the number one reason to choose HTML5 over an app.

More often than not, when a client comes to us with a branded mobile game project, the timescale is measured in weeks, not months. Until more businesses start planning much further ahead, the number of projects where time allows a mobile app to be a viable option are few and far between.

As long as a cross platform solution such as Adobe AIR is used, actual production time for an app shouldn’t be significantly greater than a web based game. However, the problem comes with actual deployment. For small scale projects, the necessary submission/review process to get published on app stores might add as much time to the project as was spent on production.

Which leads us nicely into…

Ease of Deployment

HTML5 makes it incredibly easy to actually publish your branded game and make it available via your website. It’s simply a case of uploading the files to your server (or adding a bit of embed code, if it’s hosted elsewhere). So, once production is finished you’re usually looking at hours or days, not weeks or months to go live on your website.

Not so with apps. If you want to publish your branded mobile game in your business name, first of all you’ll need to sign up with the appropriate app stores. This can take some time and should be done well in advance of project completion. Then there’s the app store submission and review process, which each mobile app needs to go through before being able to go live on the appropriate app store. We usually recommend allowing an additional month to any branded app game project timeframe. This allows plenty of time to get through the review process and make any changes, should issues arise.

Which us brings us to…

Control of the Content

Ultimately, one of the big trade-offs with branded mobile app games is the fact that you’re relinquishing a degree of control over what the finished product is allowed to be and the speed at which you can make the content available and potentially update it afterwards.

The app stores and their review processes put up a barrier between you and your audience. Although app store guidelines rarely limit what your content can be, there is always the possibility of having to make modifications to fit within these guidelines to get your branded app game approved. You also lose control of timings to a degree, with often lengthy review procedures being a requirement in order to make your game available for download. Should updates be required in future, the review process needs to be repeated each and every time.

This is the exact opposite of HTML5, where you retain full control of your content. The choices about what it will be, where and when it’s made available are completely yours. As well as being quick to upload and make your branded mobile game live, it’s also just as quick and easy to push out updates in future, should they be required.

Ease of Access

When it comes to actually being able to almost immediately get access and play your branded game, HTML5 is the clear winner. Simply enter the web address into the browser, or click a link and you’re ready to play. This immediacy makes it easier to try your game, so is a big bonus when it comes to branded games.

With apps there is an extra degree of persuasion to get people to go to the app store, download and install a mobile game in the first place. Plus, requiring that they download and install on their device may dissuade some people.

However, you could argue that the install process with an app game brings it’s own benefits in terms of player retention. Once completed you have a nice clickable icon on their home screen, reminding them to go back and play again.

Potential Exposure

HTML5 is the clear winner here. The fact that it’s possible to deploy one version of a branded game that’s not only available on most modern mobile devices, but also on desktop computers with a modern browser installed, means you can maximise your potential reach.

A mobile app game usually limits you to not only just mobile devices, but the specific types of devices that correspond with the app stores you’ve submitted to. Obviously the iOS and Google Play app stores will cover a big majority of mobile devices, but unless you target the minority app stores (Amazon Kindle, Windows Phone, etc.), then those devices will be off limits.

Hosting

Because apps are generally downloaded from appropriate app stores and use third party services for additional features like scoreboards, there isn’t usually a significant hosting requirement.

Web based branded games however need to be delivered by a web server (usually via your own website). So if you’re planning to go down the HTML5 route, it’s necessary to consider the web hosting requirement in relation to the expected traffic. For instance:

A simple branded HTML5 game might be 2-3MB in size. If you think you can realistically expect to drive 500 players per day, that’s roughly 15,000 plays per month. So the traffic volume attached to that would be around 45GB per month.

Obviously, the more complex the game and the more players you get, the more traffic volume generated (that needs to be accounted for on the hosting side of things). Although not a huge issue for most businesses with a dedicated server, it’s definitely worth being aware of the bandwidth implications for delivery to large numbers of players.

So Which is Best?

There is no right or wrong answer to this and it totally depends on the specifics of the project. But generally, if you need a fast turnaround and you can live with the technical limitations of the platform, HTML5 is usually the way to go. If having the best quality end product is a priority, you’re planning your project well ahead of time and playing on desktop computers is less of a concern, then apps are usually the best choice for a branded mobile game.