Candlepin: an upcoming, curated HTML5 Game discovery and monetization platform
That’s a lot of words in the title of this article, but what Candlepin creator Andrew Rabon is aiming to do is substantial: he’s looking to create a service that provides a curated set of best-in-class HTML5 games, playable on different devices, where indie game developers are actually paid. Compared to the typical model of just throwing games up on the web with some ads and praying, it’s got some clear advantages for developers.
I talked with Andrew over email to try to get a sense of what the aims of the service are and where it’s looking to differentiate itself from all the other game aggregation sites on the web.
What problem are you trying to solve with Candlepin?
Rabon: There are two problems I’m trying to solve with Candlepin, one for game players and one for developers. For users, finding great indie games and games that actually interest you has turned into a game of luck. Gamers play a game for five seconds and then, usually, decide it isn’t for them. If they get that far. Candlepin has a recommendation system that surfaces games that users actually want to play.
For developers, all too often the problem I hear is, “Gamers can’t find my game.” What ends up happening is they use Guerrilla update tactics to constantly appear in their app store’s “Just In” section, desperately hoping to get noticed by the gamers that cruise that list. Even more rarely, good games are discovered by those curating the store and they’re put in a “featured” section. However I would guess that such a thing happens to much less than even 1% of games. So for developers, Candlepin allows a developer’s games to show up to the players who are likely to play them the most, and thus evangelize them to their friends. Not only that, it doesn’t matter to Candlepin or players how old your game is, so a game you put on Candlepin today will be just as relevant and will surface for the same kinds of players as it will five years from now.
It’s an entirely new model of game discovery that helps both parties out.
Why did you decide on using HTML5 as a platform?
Rabon: From conversations I’ve had, game developers like the idea of HTML5 but they feel the technology is either too immature or it’s too difficult to monetize with. Even those that are making HTML5 games are usually using tools like Appcelerator Titanium or appMobi to port them easily between mobile platforms instead of targeting the web. With Candlepin I’m stepping up to the plate on both issues and trying to hit enough of a home run to at least put in developers’ minds the idea that HTML5 is viable, both the technology and the monetization aspects.
Why is your end-goal to be a Subscription-based service?
Rabon: I’ve chosen a subscription model because among other things, I think the ad model is showing signs of being exhausted. I think users of every service are starting to realize that maybe paying up front for a better experience is worth it. Netflix has been a big inspiration here; I don’t want to draw a direct comparison since Netflix’s catalog is huge and the value it provides it tremendous, but it’s sort of the general direction I was looking in when deciding Candlepin’s revenue model. It’s all about providing as much value for a fair price that users are willing to play, which we can directly reinvest back into the experience of the site.
What’s the upside for developers?
Rabon: I’ve outlined some of the major benefits for developers who have their games put on Candlepin, but the overarching goal of the entire thing is to be as developer-friendly as possible. I definitely want Candlepin to be more approachable and transparent for developers than any other app store available, and I know it’s going to take hard work over a long period of time, and that a couple mess-ups could sink our whole reputation. I know all that, but I want to give developer’s their due. So many platforms treat developers like dirt or ignore them (until they’ve made a massive hit, then they act like they were your friends all along) that I want to try the opposite approach. The bottom line is if you’re a developer and have input, I’ll listen.