Our goal of getting 25 community sponsors was quickly reached even though we didn’t have anything tied into the goal itself. We are truly grateful and we thank you for supporting us!
Today we updated our GitHub Sponsor goal to make it more tangible for you as community members. The current goal is to cover 50% of native extension build server costs from community donations. The monthly cost for keeping the servers running is roughly $1300. Our goal is to engage the community and get 50% of the costs ($650/month) covered by donations.
A bump to remind people that running the build servers costs money. Us in the community can help fund these servers by sponsoring / increasing our sponsorship amounts as we are able to.
The current progress toward the $650/month goal is $345, which means of this goal 54% is met on the Github sponsors side. Sponsoring on Github is the best place to give to the Defold Foundation because Github will give 100% of what is made to the Defold Foundation instead of taking any cut.
If you value Defold as a tool, as a service, and appreciate the members of the Defold Foundation please sponsor whatever you can no matter how small today, don’t wait - even $1 a month is a good start if that is the right amount for you! It all adds up, and it’s this voting with your wallet that will help to continue to make an impact in the gamedev space and help to continue to create an alternative gamedev tool that is superior in so many ways.
I am personally committed to increasing the amount of my monthly sponsorship with every game I release and I encourage others to do the same.
Sorry to have been away for a while. Between Covid and two new client game projects I had to set aside my own work. Now that those are out of the design stage, I’m back and happy to see the progress here. I just added myself on Patreon and hope to increase my support over time. Expect some questions as I try to catch up and get my code from last spring moving again!
Maybe I’m missing some information available somewhere, but I’m not sure what the full scope of the “Defold servers” do? Also would be helpful to know how much community contributions actually help. For example, would Defold still be available if the team never reached the goal presented on GitHub? Would development speed or quality increase with more donations? Is the team at risk of running out of money or not making a profit if donations are too low? I’d like to match @Pkeod’s idea and contribute as I release projects (that’s an awesome idea btw), but I want to make sure my money is going to something worthwhile.
I just donated because I believe in the product, I think what you’re asking for is fair, but there is also the idea, that given all that it does now, and the quality of the system, we need to at least act partially on faith and the value made available already.
Maybe the real answer is to put $3-5 a month down now, and then as your questions are answered you can increase from there, but to some extent I think if you believe in what you’ve seen so far, it would be good for users to at least modestly step up too.
The current goal is stated only to cover the costs of the build servers for native extensions. These run on AWS and are always available so that people can make builds promptly. The stated rough cost is $1300/month and the GitHub sponsors is only at $377 while the Patreon is at $75 so that means the cost is not currently being covered, and the rest is eating into whatever funding the Defold Foundation was given by King / the other corporate sponsors. I don’t know if the costs of hosting this forum and the data from the builds updating ( https://d.defold.com/stable/ ) are part of the $1300 but if they are not they are probably a lot too.
It would be cool to know what the EC2 config is / what its actual usage stats account up to. There are optimizations possible always and they add up in the long term so they can be very much worth doing sooner.
Getting on Steam would also reduce the burden of bandwidth costs if those builds were configured to only update via Steam and not directly (it’s possible to do both, many MMOs do both but obviously you pay for direct traffic). They don’t charge free products for bandwidth.
AWS is also a bit of an expensive solution. There are other providers like https://www.linode.com/ which may be a better option.
Someone else mentioned it, but it might possible that one of these hosts may be willing to sponsor the costs of the build service so may be worth reaching out and see if they want to become a recognized part of this gamedev community… certainly the link alone would be worth it for how much the build servers cost at the moment.
The most important thing to getting a better sponsorship $ amount is to increase the number of people using Defold. That’s a big reason why getting on Steam sooner rather than potentially years from now is important. Once people support they will probably stay supporting for a long time and it all adds up. Reaching levels like $10k a month + from small contributions is possible but only with a larger community. All of us can do more outreach too. A simple important thing to do is to include the Made with Defold logo somewhere in your games.
Download server - for hosting builds for all releases, development branches etc
S3 storage - we use different lifetime policies depending on what we store (stable releases are kept longer than betas which in turn are kept longer than dev builds). We also publish all releases on GitHub but we can’t get rid of the S3 storage as that is where the editor updates are stored etc
The bulk of the cost can be found in the actual EC2 servers. The S3 storage, elastic search etc also cost a bit of money, but not by far as much as the actual servers.
In addition to the above there’s also some costs for domains, certificates etc but those are fairly low. The main website is hosted at GitHub using GitHub Pages which means it is basically free (we have a small cost for https).
The cost of the servers compared to the cost of keeping us working full time on Defold is low. We have identified the build servers as a critical component which a lot of developers rely on. We could in theory shut down the servers and let everyone run their own local build servers, but it would greatly hurt the community. That is why we want to keep the servers running, and we have funds to pay our salaries and the server costs, but not indefinitely. The community donations we receive from GitHub Sponsors, PayPal and Patreon could be used towards paying salaries but it would not get us very far and it is not a very tangible and easy to measure goal. We believe it is better if we set the goal for the community donations to be used for server costs, as the servers are used by the global community of Defold developers every day.
Now, as for paying our salaries we got a very generous donation from King when the foundation was created, but it is not an unlimited source of money. At some point the money will run out and we’d be forced to work on Defold on our spare time and shut down all the servers. This would very likely be the end of Defold as we know it and it is something we want to avoid at all costs.
This is where the corporate partnerships come in. The partnerships are the real sources of revenue for the foundation and the number of corporate partners and the size of the partnerships are what will determine the future of Defold. We currently have three great corporate partners: King, Melsoft Games and Heroic Labs. We also received funding from Grant for the Web. This is a great start but we need a few more partners to be able to keep up the current pace of development and start planning for expansion. We have several ongoing partnership discussions and I’m positive that we will be able to sign at least some of them this year.
Thank you for taking the time to write this out, it answered all of my questions and more. I’m sure it’ll be enlightening for a lot of others as well. I agree that the community donations are a great fit for the server costs, since Defold community members are the ones demanding the services most of the time.
We have optimized things as we go and have now picked almost all of the low-hanging-fruit. There’s a few more things we can do but it will not have a huge impact on the bottom line.
We have a Steam account, got approval for Defold distribution etc but we haven’t finished the process yet. We will not use the Steam update service for editor updates as the traffic cost to S3 isn’t high. We will put Defold on Steam to test your hypothesis on attracting new users.
Yes, we can probably transition from AWS to another cloud service but the effort would be huge and when weighing the time spent against the money saved I think it will not be worth it.
We’re in discussion with Amazon to get AWS credits to cover some of the costs.
Yes, growing the community is super important! Not only for the community donations but even more so because it makes it easier for us to attract corporate partners.
I have not donated yet, as about a year ago I got rid of credit card (not for any nefarious or unfortunate reason, just…because), and don’t really have any online payment method atm. I’m looking into just grabbing a prepaid card for the moment and throwing that down on github donations if possible. I have no immediate or even mid-future plans of making any commercial game, but I really enjoy using Defold, and I enjoy the community, and I see it as any other hobby: Hobbies cost money. Defold is free. I have zero problem contributing money for something that I’ve already gotten tons of value out of for free, and will definitely continue using going forward. I hope in this “post-piracy,” monthly streaming charge era there are more who think similarly and the donations go up, for everyone’s benefit.
Also, @britzl, if there’s any method of just doing a direct payment of a nominal amount via bank or whatever, plz let me know via pm. Would be an easier sell for me at the moment.