A look back at the news and numbers of Phaser in 2017 and what the New Year holds.
It's time for another yearly round-up of everything Phaser in 2017. This is a continuation of an annual series I started back in 2015. You can read the 2016 entry and I'll be comparing stats this year with 2016 to show how things have changed.
Before we start I need to point of one very important fact: There were no new versions of Phaser at all in 2017. Phaser CE received lots of updates and I'll cover that later, but there were no 'official' releases at all. Remember this when reading about the stats and income.
So let's get started.
Phaser Site Traffic
As you'd expect the Phaser site mostly attracts developers, so our stats and demographics reflect this.
Site traffic remained consistent in 2017 from its 2016 numbers. In 2016 the site had 11.2 million page views and 688k users. In 2017 this increased marginally to 11.56 million page views and 777k users.
As with 2016 the overwhelming majority of site visitors are using Chrome. The numbers this year are slightly higher than 2016, up to 77.5% from 76%. Firefox is in second place with 11.18%, down from 13.78% in 2016, a quite dramatic drop.
Beyond this we're in little numbers again: Safari 5.38% and Opera at 1.30%, both lower than 2016. Internet Explorer use continues to decline, it was 0.88% in 2016 and it's even lower at 0.84% in 2017. Edge hasn't grown as much as I would have expected at only 1.04%.
Again, Windows dominates, accounting for 61.08% of all traffic, a 1.79% increase over 2016. OS X is second at 20.45%, a 1.55% decline from 2016. Linux is at 8.52%, also a decline on last year. In short, Windows use is definitely eating into OS X and Linux stats.
I didn't record this last year but it's interesting to see that the most common screen resolution you're all using is 1920x1080 (29.49%), second with 16.99% is a resolution of 1366x768. Remember these are the resolutions of developer, not players.
Another interesting stat: 57.92% of you no longer have Flash installed in your browser at all. This isn't surprising given what browsers have done to Flash this year, but in 2016 you all had Flash Player installed!
As with every year I've been doing this mobile visits to the site are so low they barely register. They are mostly focused on the News sections, so it's likely to be people reading the newsletter and following links.
During 2016 Disqus made ads non-optional. I was using it to handle comments on the Phaser site and said I would remove them during 2017, and I did. They no longer run at all. It means we don't allow any comments anywhere on the site but that's a small trade off to pay.
The site still runs from a dedicated server hosted in the UK with UK Fast. It was upgraded during 2016 and the new hardware is perfectly suitable for our current needs. It still costs £350 GBP a month.
Last year I wrote: "Little known fact: The Phaser site was built entirely by myself, and uses a 100% custom written Laravel back-end. Site content is created in plain text markdown files. A bunch of custom scripts import this into the site. All data is stored in SQLite databases with the exception of the Phaser Sandbox which uses a redundant MySQL set-up. There is no 'admin' area, no CMS tools or anything of the sort. I create content directly in Sublime Text, push it to git and it syncs to the site. I'd much rather this workflow over struggling with the likes of WordPress." - and this is all still true for 2017 as well. I have not updated the site code at all this year beyond a few small layout tweaks.
There's still no sense of 'community' to the Phaser site. You visit, consume and leave. Hopefully 2018 will be the year this changes.
HTML5 Game Devs Forum
Deja vu: I said last year that the HTML5 Game Devs Forum was continuing to grow at a nice pace, and this has been true in 2017 as well.
We're now at 22,588 members (an increase of 4,442) who have written 196,464 posts in total - 41,698 of which were made in 2017. This is slightly down on 2016 but not enough to worry about.
The Babylon.js forum has overtaken the Phaser one in terms of popularity. This is due to the fantastic effort the Babylon team put into managing their forum community. I've been even less active in the Phaser forum in 2017 than in 2016, spending much more time in Slack.
In terms of traffic the forum had 4,459,640 page views in 2017 from 808,622 users. This is fractionally lower than the 4.5 million page views in 2016 but again, the difference is not large enough to worry about.
One issue the forum did suffer during 2017 was a DDoS attack. Here is what I had to say about it, from May 5th: "Yesterday, starting at 4pm GMT, the forum suffered a comprehensive, well-coordinated DDoS attack. This was a properly distributed attack, meant to disable the site (which it did), not just some script kiddies playing around. We had thousands of open connections blocking ports and exhausting our httpd service, with sustained inbound traffic floods of 20GB per second (the equivalent of saturating a dedicated 40Mbps T3 line).
I spent the entire night working diligently with my host to resolve the problem. As a side effect, the attack also took down other sites hosted on the same server, including the Phaser site. The target, however, was the forum. We finally managed to block the attack, but there were 12 hours of downtime and ripples of it carrying on throughout today. It cost me a lot of time, money, and effort."
You can read the reason and outcome in this thread. It was quite an experience to work through.
Aside from this one incident the forum remains a remarkably civil place to discuss browser game dev. I see no reason why it won't carry on into 2018 in much the same way.
Phaser on GitHub
A year ago Phaser had 13,978 stars on GitHub. This is now 17,007, an increase of 3029 stars, slightly more than the 2015 to 2016 increase. And remember, this is without any major releases at all in 2017.
We're now committing work directly to the
master branch so it's interesting to see our volume of commits in 2017:
That's a pretty awesome 165 commits in one week of November alone. While commits are not the be-all and end-all of a project, it should at least give an indication of the level of work and effort that was poured into Phaser V3 during 2017.
Honestly, I expect this to go ballistic in 2018. I predict hundreds of pull requests, issues and commits during the year. It's like we've been in a giant holding pattern while Phaser 3 was worked on, but as soon as we land it's going to go crazy again.
Because there were no new releases of Phaser in 2017 it's pointless showing the number of PRs on the repo. What is more fascinating is to see how Phaser CE has taken off in its place. Phaser CE is the Community Edition of Phaser and it's the community that is responsible for updating it and managing pull requests themselves. It's fair to say it has had an amazing 2017.
The first release of the year was 2.7.3 on the 9th of January with a release every almost month since, the most recent being 2.9.4 on December 20th. That's 22 releases in the space of 12 months including hundreds of fantastic updates and fixes.
The CE team are doing an amazing job and I'd like to point out the diligent and wonderful work of samme who is, without a doubt, the driving force behind the success of CE in 2017.
I said that I think CE will eventually fizzle away once V3 is released but now I'm not so sure. I still see such big projects being launched with CE that I reckon it will carry on in 2018 as strong as it did in 2017, because it takes time for developers and agencies to transfer their skills and toolsets over and it will equally take time for V3 to settle down and become as stable and battle-tested as V2 / CE is. So I see 2018 being a period of transition, yes, but during that time both trains will be running parallel. Which one ends up ahead at the end, who knows.
Phaser 3 and Mozilla
One of the best things to happen in 2017 was Phaser being accepted into the Mozilla Open Source Support scheme and awarded $50,000 USD. I wrote about this in my patreon post. The money directly goes towards funding the completion of Phaser 3. Here is what I wrote back in September:
"As you would expect, you don't just get a check in the mail. As part of the application I agreed a list of features that Phaser 3 would have and a set of milestone dates assigned to releases. The MOSS award is paid out in 3 instalments linked directly to those milestones, if Mozilla are happy that we have achieved what we said we would. The first payment is due at the end of September, aligning with Beta 2. The next with the official v3 release and the final payment 2 months after that."
We did indeed receive the first payment. However, we requested that release of 3.0 be pushed back to January 2018, so the next payment will come when that happens. It's full steam ahead to make sure we meet that new deadline!
The Phaser Community
2017 started with issue 62 of the Phaser World newsletter, published on January 6th. The cover game was an amazing remake of Thrust and the issue was sent to 6886 subscribers. The year ended with issue 109 sent to 8759 readers, although in the time between sending that and the year ending we picked up another bunch of sign-ups, so we'll close 2017 with approx. 8781 subscribers. A healthy increase of 27%. Last year I said: "If we follow current trends we should have around 9000 subscribers by the end of 2017" - so I was pretty much spot-on :) Based on current rates I predict we end 2018 with around 11.5k subscribers.
I use the service Mad Mimi to create and publish each issue. They actively purge and update the subscriber list. So if an address bounces too often, or fails for whatever reason, they are removed from the list automatically. This is great because it means I know I've got nearly 9k active and interested readers, not a whole bunch of dead email addresses. It's also great because I'm charged based on the volume of newsletters sent and I've got a limit of 10,000 subscribers in my current plan. We're still within this limit but if the trend carries on it will flip over into the more expensive plan by the end of Spring.
I'd like to move to a different newsletter system as I feel the current one is a bit restrictive in terms of layout and it's a nightmare embedding source code into it - we annoyingly have to use PNGs for all source code snippets. However, it works and it's really low hassle for me, so it's a super-low priority to change.
One great milestone we hit this year was of course issue 100. Tom drew a brilliant cover for it and it was a packed issue with a really fun article all about the Making of Phaser World. I also finally added a decent Back Issues section to the web site.
Last year I wrote: "It (the newsletter) has become home to our Developer Progress reports, which I feel probably ought to be shared in a location other than just the newsletter, as they're vitally important at showing what we're working on. That's something I'd like to sort out in 2017". I did manage to achieve this and they're all now available directly on the website.
Slack and Discord
2017 started with 780 people in the Phaser Slack channel and ends with 1330, a 70% increase. I finally found a way to automate adding people to the Slack channel, which was great!
We've spent a year with an active Discord channel too. It started 2017 with 261 members and ends with 844, which is a pretty large increase of 223%. However, Discord is really quiet. There might be a lot of server members but that is meaningless when #general is little more than tumbleweed. I know it's because I don't have the time to interact with people there much, so I'm in two minds about closing the server down entirely. I haven't yet made that decision though and will likely just end up passing it over to someone else to manage.
Phaser earns income from three distinct sources: 1) Patreon 2) Sales and 3) Ads. These combine together to go towards our running costs. Let me explain a little about those before we get to the income.
There are some tangible costs associated with Phaser. The hosting of the web server is $5600 per year. The cost of the newsletter service is $504 per year and DeployBot is $180 a year. There are smaller non-monthly costs like domain renewals too.
But by far the biggest cost is wages. The money Phaser earns goes directly towards paying the salary of Felipe, who works on Phaser development full-time, and whatever is left goes towards my salary.
In order for Phaser to fund us full-time we'd need to bring in $7000 USD per month. This would cover both salaries and office rent although it doesn't leave much room for anything else.
As you'll see, we don't make enough in the year to cover all of these things, which is why I take on contract work to make-up the difference and why I applied for the funding from Mozilla. But it's bloody close. Let's have a look:
Despite all of the cock-ups Patreon made with their $1 pledge tax we had a pretty good year. 2017 started with 130 patrons and ends with 164, the highest it has ever been.
After declined pledges and fees we earned $19,466 from Patreon in 2017. This is an average of $1622 per month. 2017 has been a lot more stable in terms of income. We had a lot of fluctuations in 2016 with big patrons coming in and then vanishing a few months later. Thankfully it's due to the support of all the "lower" (but oh so important!) pledges that we're able to carry on as we are. I don't know what will happen in 2018. Patreon has been taking a hammering recently and people are getting fed-up with their service. Also, competitors are arising from the likes of Kickstarter. So I'll keep a close eye on it and if I decide the time is right, I'll move.
Phaser Plugin Sales
We've been selling plugins and books for 2 years now and it remains a consistent part of our income. We still sell via Gumroad, who take a percentage from each sale, but it's a pain free service so I don't see us stopping it just yet.
Important: There wasn't a single new Phaser product launched in 2017. Which means all sales were from products and books released in 2016 or before. We did tweak the pricing, however, and every one of our own products was discounted by 50% permanently. I felt this was the right thing to do given the age of them.
Sales come direct from our own plugins and books and also from affiliates. Affiliates have played a major role in 2017 as you'll see:
Total sales income for the year after fees, refunds and taxes was $30,938.95 USD. Out of this $10,797.66 USD came from affiliate deals. Which are other sites selling our products, or us selling 3rd party products for a %. Either way, that's 35% of our income resulting from affiliates.
One of these affiliate is Zenva. We sell the Zenva Academy Phaser video courses and get a percentage from those. During 2017 we made $5,690.99 from the Zenva deal, which is almost half of the total affiliate income and a big improvement on 2016.
Last year I said: "I predict that in 2017 if we don't release some new books, or update the plugins to work with Phaser 3, that we'll see the sales decline to a point where they aren't relevant any longer."
I was wrong about this. Although we made less money, $31k in 2017 vs. $37k in 2016, this isn't really surprising. After all, we had no major releases of Phaser and we didn't have one single new product or book. It does go to show that products have a decent tail though and keep on selling years after release.
We will absolutely have Phaser 3 related products on sale during 2018 though, so let's see what impact this has next year!
In June 2017 I was approached by a representative from the Carbon Ads network to run ads on the Phaser site. I like Carbon ads. They're tech-relevant and far less intrusive than the likes of Google. I wasn't sure what money they could generate but wanted to give it a go. I set-up the ad and we started rolling. A month later we had made $767. So I kept them on the site and during 2017 they bought in $3,826.33 USD, an average of $637 per month.
I was really pleased about this! It covers the cost of the server hosting and newsletter service in one hit. As much as I dislike having any ads on the site when they're this financially useful I can't ignore them.
The Grand Total
I've been keeping precise and careful track of income all year. I record it all in a spreadsheet, split by category, so I can see what we're making from affiliates or ads at any point. I'll carry this process on into 2018 for sure.
Phaser earned $54,231.72 USD in 2017 via Patreon, sales and ads
This is a $3938 increase from 2016, which I honestly was not expecting. I find myself yet again amazed that it's able to sustain this level of passive income even in what could be considered a fallow year for Phaser itself. Combined with the money from Mozilla it has allowed us to really focus hard on Phaser 3 and everyone, us included, will start to reap the rewards of this in 2018.
It's fair to say that 2017 was another incredible year for Phaser. I wrote 505 news articles for the Phaser site during 2017 and even without any major official releases or new products you lot are still churning out fantastic games and resources every single week! Clearly it remains a go-to tool for a lot of developers. Here are a few of my personal highlights:
The very first news article of 2017 was a tutorial on creating a game like Space is Key written by non-other than Emanuele Feronato. He remains the single largest author of Phaser tutorials, ever.
It's great to see Phaser still being used for big brands: Namco, Tetris, Cartoon Network, Governor of Poker, MobilityWare Jigsaw Puzzle, BBC, Minecraft and more!
Orange Games released a massive number of incredible games in 2017. They're easily one of the largest and most productive Phaser development studios out there. They're also a Phaser sponsor, so doubly awesome!
It's been a huge year for IO games. I don't think a month has gone by without another new multiplayer offering and some of them are getting really good! From the likes of Gunfight.io, Pirate Battle.io and the sublime stba.io they're literally all over the place!
Phaser became 4 years old on April 12th 2017. I didn't do anything to celebrate it, though I'm planning to change that for its 5th birthday.
My Top-3 games for 2017 are: Norco: Faraway Lights. A moody cyberpunk adventure from the deep south. The Townsfolk Cartel. I'm a bit of a sucker for idle clicker games, especially when they're this fun! And my game of the year is Strike Tactics and its multiplayer follow-up, stba.io. A fast-paced streamroller RTS. Harvest, build, attack, defend and conquer your opponents.
2018 here we come ...
I ended 2016 with two predictions: That during 2017 Facebook Instant Games would be big. And for those invited onto their service that is certainly true. I also said that Phaser 3 would ship. Clearly it didn't ship in a final form, but we're 14 beta releases in and about to head into RC territory. So it is happening at last and I couldn't be more excited about it.
If I had to make two predictions for 2018 it will be that Phaser 3 will evolve at a dramatic rate. By the end of the year I expect it to be updated to ES6 and for it to have entered the realm of 3D graphics too. I personally also want to have published at least one new book, or related learning materials (i.e. videos). Finally, I would love to also publish a Phaser magazine. It has been a dream of mine for years now and I'd love to accomplish it. Let's see how that goes.
We've worked so hard this year. Thousands and thousands of lines of code written, tests performed, examples authored, decisions made (and some unmade!), some real highs and real lows. It feels magical to have the chance to even be doing this. Let's all make the most of it, because 2018 is all about Phaser 3, and it's going to be massive.
Happy New Year everyone!