Aquatic – My 48 Hour HTML5 Game That Made $2000 In A Week

Earlier this month I participated in a small competition where entrants use HTML5 to create a game in 48 hours. This was the first time I had seen a HTML5 game jam, so using it as an excuse to make a new game, I decided to enter.

While I generate the majority of my online income from HTML5 games, these days I primarily work with partners who provide content for me to publish on their behalf. I share the profits I generate with the partner, to the benefit of both parties. However, I retain all of the profits when I create and publish my own games.

It had been a while since I made my last HTML5 game so I wanted to see what I could achieve in 48 hours, and how much money I could generate from the game in the shortest timeframe possible. The results were impressive.

Aquatic is an ocean-themed puzzle game that requires players to match various aquatic animals as they swim across the screen. It’s a simple concept that is well executed. The visuals are bright, colorful, and they are designed with my target audience in mind. The interface is sleek and polished, with plenty of attention to detail.

I have entered game jams like Ludum Dare in the past, so I had a good idea of what I could achieve in 48 hours. Using GameMaker Studio I was able to create Aquatic with an estimated 12 solid hours of actual work.

Upon completing the game, I began pitching it to my favorite HTML5 game sponsors. I received multiple replies from publishers within a short while, who all expressed interest in licensing Aquatic. Within 48 hours of finishing my game, it had made $1200. Within a week, it had made $2000. With those earnings I had generated over $160 per hour of work.

Aquatic has a long way to go. I’m confident that this game will eventually earn upwards of $5000 over the coming months and year. It is the perfect game for the HTML5 market in its current state, and it should survive the test of time, for a while at least.

The success of this game can be attributed to my deep understanding of the HTML5 market and my target audience. To learn more and join this growing niche, check out my book Making Money With HTML5.

I plan to challenge myself to start making HTML5 within 48 hours more frequently. By following a logical blueprint I believe I can continue to generate a significant amount of income with a minimal investment of time. With some effort, I might finally be able to reach my goal of making $10,000 online in a single month (update: which I finally did)

Thank you for reading!



  1. Kuba


    It was 48h of work, or 48h from start of development to the end (with breaks for sleep, eating etc)?

  2. Pablo


    Hi there, Matthew:

    Your results are impressive. I played Aquatic some days ago and it seemed a very good idea to me. I have two questions for you:

    – In that hour-limited challenges, how do they know that anybody has made the games only in that period of time?
    – If you have the hability to make successful games so fast, why don’t you decide to make much more? In two months you could have eight games al least, and it would report lots of earnings, wouldn’t it?
    Pablo recently posted En camino – On the roadMy Profile

    • Hi Pablo!

      – In such a challenge, no, it’s usually just about trusting that others are abiding by the rules.
      – It can be quite exhausting to make a game in such a short period of time, and I also have a lot of other work that I have to keep under control. It would be nice to spend every weekend making a new, highly polished game, but it’s really draining. I do plan to do it more often, but I couldn’t do it every weekend.

      Thanks for commenting.
      Matthew recently posted Online Income Report #013 – May 2013My Profile

  3. Samuel Batista


    Would you mind recording and uploading your development process style?

    It would be great to see how you handle asset loading and stuff. I use haxeflixel engine, but HTML5 support is spotty. I can’t afford GameMaker, so I can’t use your awesome utilities for screen size management.

    • I’m personally not a huge fan of streaming my development process, sorry.

      GameMaker Studio certainly makes life a lot easier…and when combined with my Mobility Engine it’s just the perfect environment for HTML5 game development in my opinion.

  4. Lowren


    It’s certainly your most beautiful game so far, congrats. Did you made the graphics by yourself, or did you bought a graphic pack?

    • For this one, I purchased specific assets that I wanted to use, edited and polished them, and then combined them with resources I had previously purchased or created. I then added some special effects to tie them all together. I’m not an artist, and when you lack graphical talent you’ve got to find ways around that. Thankfully, it’s not hard to these days.
      Matthew recently posted Online Income Report #014 – June 2013My Profile

  5. Samuel


    In this project, did you use vector art or pixel art? Everytime I see pixel art it seems unappealing unless in a retro game. I want to know what art people use in these mobile games that look so smooth.

    • Well, you can sort of tell just by looking at the screenshots, right? :P

      • Samuel


        Yeah, that should definitely be vector graphics. It’s just that I keep hearing that people make great pixel art but I only view it as being great in retro games. But congratulations on the 2 grand. I’m 17 and planning to be self-employed at ur age as well.

  6. Jarvannis


    Congratulations Matthews, from France ! I hope making the same than you very soon. Some questions :

    1) This game is good, but do you think you earned so much money because now you are “known” and you have contacts ?
    2) Same question that Lowren, what about the graphics ? You did it yourself during the contest ?

    • Hello Jarvannis, thank you! I’m glad to answer your questions:

      1) To a degree, yes. When you’ve had as much time to build a list of contacts as I have you certainly have a better chance of selling games quickly. I wouldn’t say it is because I am “known”, though.

      2) I replied to Lowren so please see above.
      Matthew recently posted Aeon Chapters – Development Log (Update 002)My Profile

  7. ninja turtle


    No income report this month?

    • It’s coming! Sorry for the delay, I’m currently in the process of moving houses and things are a bit hectic.

  8. Manley Peterson


    Nice article, thanks for sharing. It is exciting to see what you can accomplish so quickly.

  9. Brendan


    Hello, Matthew

    I am a game developer myself do freelance work but am looking into building games for mobile and the web I use the Unity engine and do all the programming and 3d art work myself but get a 2d artist too do my 2d work.

    This looks amazing at how much money there is online and in mobile I am hoping that one day I will finish my projects and start making some real money. I love you’re game and idea i have even purchased you’re book. It was a great read :)


  10. Aeip


    How did you get all of the animations, and clip art? Did you make it yourself, or do you have someone who you profit to?


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