Online Income Report #059 – March 2017

I make video games for a living, and each month I publish a fully transparent income report to document my online earnings. These income reports exist to demonstrate my progress, share my experiences, and motivate others who want to make money online.

Check out my online income report for February/March 2017.

What I Did ‘This Month’

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the time to publish an income report last month, so I’m combining my stats and earnings from Feb/March into a single report.

The first quarter of 2017 has been challenging for me. I’ve been splitting my time between the business and my new major project Kingfall, which has been extremely demanding to work on (as you’d expect). I have also been very ill for the past week, which delayed this report further, but I’m glad that I can finally share what I’ve been up to.

New Games

Throughout Feb/March, I managed to publish several new games that have been in production for quite a while. These games are 100% free to play, with no ads, and they don’t require installation – check them out at the links below!

Blackjack Casino is definitely the most ambitious game in the set. My goal with this project was to recreate the archetypal casino ambience and make it feel like you’re actually at a casino; this was achieved using table-side props, smoke effects, and a jazzy soundtrack. I’m thrilled with how it turned out, and it’s one of my favorite productions so far. This project also posed an interesting moral question that required consideration.

Danger Light is a remake of one of the oldest games in my portfolio. The original version used a landscape orientation, and I have been gradually phasing out landscape games entirely. Landscape is such an awful format for HTML5 games, especially on iOS, and I don’t want to support it anymore. The gameplay in Danger Light is simplistic, but I love the visuals and tone that we created. We also upgraded the graphics to high definition.

Zoo Match is another high definition remake. The original game was extremely basic and outdated, and it was long overdue for a refresh. This game was slightly trickier to convert from landscape to portrait orientation, but it worked out nicely and feels much better to play now. Oddly enough, this game had the highest budget for artwork because we had to license 32 individual photographs for the animal tiles.

GMS2 First Impression

If you’ve been keeping up with game development news, you’ll know that GameMaker Studio 2 (GMS2) was recently released by the team at YoYo Games. I had a chance to spend some time with it this month.

GameMaker is a powerful game creation tool that I have been using for over a decade now. GMS2 is a complete overhaul of GameMaker’s codebase, workflow, and user interface, and it ultimately marks a new generation for the engine. I’m a huge proponent of this engine – it’s the cornerstone of my business – so I was very excited to explore the update.


  • Features: GMS2 includes powerful new features & major improvements
  • Workflow: The new workflow is modern, customizable, and designed for professional use
  • Updates: YoYo Games will be prioritizing GMS2 for updates, especially in the long-term
  • Familiarity: It’s a relatively easy transition if you’re an existing user


  • Price: Major software updates aren’t free, you’ll have to pay to upgrade
  • Preference: The new workflow is polarizing and has driven numerous users away
  • Bugs: GMS2 was only just released, there are bugs & issues that still need fixing
  • Accessibility: It’s more difficult than ever for newcomers to get started

My first impression of GMS2 is that the engine has a very promising future as it pivots further towards professional use. It took me a while to get comfortable with the new workflow, but it eventually sold me over (especially after tweaking various settings). It feels like GameMaker has finally made it into the 21st century.

There are some undoubtedly questionable design decisions which I’m not happy about, but if the community is vocal enough about them they should be addressed in time. I hope YoYo Games can streamline certain functionality and make the engine less tedious to use as a whole, especially for professionals that spend all day with it. For example, I don’t want to spend 10 seconds trying to center a sprite when it used to take a single click.

There are numerous issues like this, and not all of them can be addressed manually. These steps backwards are frustrating and definitely tainted my first impression of GMS2. But there are plenty of promising steps forward, too, and overall I would strongly recommend that existing GameMaker users make the transition sooner rather than later.

I’ll be updating the Mobility Engine to work with GMS2 in the future, and my major project Kingfall will be built using GMS2. My upcoming book Learn To Make Games will teach newcomers how to easily get started with GMS2 and learn the basics of game development.

I will have much more to say about GMS2 in the future but for now, let’s continue with this income report.

Other Stuff

I worked 244 productive hours in Feb/March and took 14/59 days off (tracked using RescueTime Pro).

I’m currently playing Wakfu, watching 13 Reasons Why, and Nocturnal Animals was the best movie I saw this month.

Platform Overview

Here’s a quick look at how my online platform performed during Feb/March 2017.


The games I publish were played 1,904,237 times (46,217,933 total).


My websites were viewed 47,439 times (6,088,712 total) by 23,145 unique visitors.

In March, I wrote a post detailing a day in the life of a professional game developer (that’s me!) The content is much more personal than anything I have written before, so I was thankful that it was well-received.


I have a total of 26,875 subscribers across various platforms.

Twitter – 20,843
Facebook – 1,969
Newsletter – 4,063

Online Income Report

So far in 2017, my income has been stable but not remarkable. That’s quite typical for the first quarter of the year, and I have been additionally distracted with Kingfall. I’m expecting to have a weaker year overall because I have less time to find clients and make sales.

During Feb/March 2017 I earned $8,095 USD solely online ($392,340 total), which is roughly $4,047 each when split between both months.


I feel like I got lucky here because historically February is my least profitable month of the year and March is often nothing special. My profits from HTML5 games could easily have been much lower. One of my biggest concerns right now is that I’m spending a lot of money developing Kingfall and my total expenditure is at an all-time high. Of course, this is the nature of developing a new product, but spending large sums of money on a regular basis is stress-inducing and I feel it more during weaker months.

Kingfall will not be in a position to start making money anytime soon, so I’m still depending on my core business to keep me afloat. I plan to continue making small HTML5 games for the foreseeable future, and I’ll certainly be updating all of my other products this year. The upcoming launch of Learn To Make Games should help to alleviate the financial burden of Kingfall, and I may raise more funds for the project in Q3-Q4 2017.

I’m satisfied with these results and I look forward to seeing how the rest of the year unfolds. It should be interesting to follow Kingfall’s development as I work towards realizing the immense potential of this core product.

Finally, I would like to thank this month’s top supporters: Andrew Bach, David Arias, and Bentley Born.

Thanks for reading!


Previous income report »

  • James says:

    Hi Matthew. I have an odd question: do you ever use ads for your games or do you just sell them “as is” to publishers and then they do that? Or do you ever use in-game shops with a make-shift currency that people have to pay real money for IAP? Basically I’ve considered moving from mobile to web games as I find that ads and in-game shops seem to be only way to make any money on mobile market, and I’m quite tired of working on shops and such. I use Unity, so I either use JSON for persistent data and saving, or Unity’s built-in playerprefs. I know you use Gamemaker but have you had any issues with shops IAP or do you just ignore that side of things? [Edited for readability]

    • Matthew says:

      I don’t use ads in my games, but some publishers include their own. I don’t use IAP or item shops in these smaller projects.

  • Tom Armstrong says:

    Hi Matthew. Congratulations on the continued success of your site and games. I’ve been playing with GMS2 and really like a lot of things about it. The main reason I’m thinking of avoiding it is the time it takes to compile the games when you do a test. Does this increase with real projects like your games? Have you found it a problem?

    Many thanks


    • Matthew says:

      Hi Tom – compilation times do increase as your game grows in size, but the waiting has never been an issue for me (it’s usually 10-15 seconds). This is partially determined by the specs/power of your PC. I have heard that massive games such as Hotline Miami can easily take 10+ minutes to compile.

  • Ollie says:

    Very impressive figures as always. Man I wish I had your talent ;-)

  • Jean-Claude Cottier says:

    You are saying that you are now designing all your games in portrait. I am new to HTML5 but not to game development (more than 20 years professional experience). I am curious about your strategy for supporting different aspect ratio. On mobile, it could be anything really with so many android devices. But what are you doing for desktop? Do you have a resolution that you always use, like an industry standard ? Or is it depending on the publisher. Also, when you say mobile, do you mean people playing on a browser or do you release your apps as an app on the app-store, and if not why not? Final question, you don’t seem to support any multi-player component. Do you do anything like persistent high-score table stored online or any cloud related technology? thanks.

    • Matthew says:

      Several of these questions are answered in quite some detail in my book Making Money With HTML5.

      When I say mobile, I do indeed mean that they are playing on the mobile web. We’re in the process of wrapping games for the native app stores but these are not priority platforms for me.

  • It is really unbelievable that you made money out of gaming blog. I am surprised. You are really amazing dear. Thanks for sharing such beautiful inspiration for us. All the best for your future and wish you earn more and more money in the near future.

  • Matthew, do you make money from in-app advertising? Or how do you monetize non-paying users?

    Would it be an option for you to directly advertise our app in your games, or you sell licenses and don’t have rights to add ads inside them?

    • Matthew says:

      I tend to avoid relying on advertising as a form of income generation. I have often said, “if you have enough traffic to make money from ads, you would be better off advertising your own products”. This is the stance I take on my website, too.

      Additionally, since I sell my games to companies and not end users, my business model doesn’t revolve around monetizing players. I love that players get free access to my games and that I don’t have to think about how to nickel-and-dime them.

  • Seb says:

    Thanks for the inspiration man…I recently finished a coding bootcamp and I want to make a living from an online business (maybe a PaaS).

  • Mitchell says:

    Hey Matthew!

    Thank you for the income report! I was a little concerned since you didn’t publish last month, thanks for updating us all with this one! Good Luck for the next one and I hope this month has been treating you well! :)

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks Mitchell, I hope it was worth the wait!

      • Mitchell says:

        Definitely was thank you Matthew!

  • Faraz Jafari says:

    Hey man, keep it up!
    Keen to see more on Kingfall.

  • Livko says:

    Wow finally :) I wait for new post :) What do you think about Construct 2? Do you have any experience working with this tool? This is my first step with game developing – this is so big sentence :) And I collect information which game creator is better than other. Thank you for any reply :) Have a nice day!

    • Matthew says:

      Construct 2 is a pretty good engine, but it’s too limited for me. There is a low ceiling on what you can do with it. I tend to recommend GMS > Phaser > Construct 2 in roughly that order.

  • JL GAMES says:

    Excellent data and publication, but this obviously is not so easy. I have been using GameMaker Studio for 3 years and I have always developed games for Android. Two months ago I got into the world of games for HTML5 but I have not been lucky, I have contacted some websites and some publishers to sell or rent my games but most tell me that they do not have support for the GameMaker Studio engine. I do not understand, what publishers or web pages do you contact that they do support GameMaker Studio? I’m a little frustrated …

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks for your comments. You’re right: it’s not so easy that everyone will be immediately successful but it has nothing to do with “luck”. If you’ve only been in the market for 2 months you still have lots to learn. I have only ever had one publisher turn me down for using GameMaker Studio and that was many years ago. If “most” publishers are rejecting your games, it’s probably due to other issues (quality, performance, gameplay). It’s not uncommon for publishers to make up reasons for rejecting games so they don’t offend the developer.

  • PanfurWare LLC says:

    So, HTML5 games are profitable? Totally missed this. Curious to know how many or if most of your users are mobile. Keep up the good work!

    • Matthew says:

      Absolutely! I have been making HTML5 games and publishing these reports for 5 years now. As for your question, the majority of my users are actually on desktop but there is a large percentage playing on mobile too. My games are designed for mobile first.

      • ArtistArcher says:

        Hi, Matthew.

        I literally just discovered your website. Been learning GMS over the past several months and just created my first full game in HTML5 for a class final.

        One question I have is how are you getting the touch controls to work for iOS with your HTML5 games?

        The ones on my game register the first button but then the rest don’t work.

        Thank you.

        • Matthew says:

          Hi Archer – iOS touch controls are currently broken in the latest stable version of GMS. This is fixed in the new EA release though. I hope this helps!