Creating games for just one platform such as, say, the PlayStation 3 or a PC or the Nintendo DS, is becoming more the exception than the rule. Any Web technology that can render a game on a range of browsers is becoming one of the rules, the mainstays, in game development. There may be a day when most gamers will be playing the next version of Street Fighter or Call of Duty in a browser, rather than from a disc. Although that day is still a ways around the corner, one of the leading current technologies in this emerging brave new world of online games is HTML5, and one of the most devoted companies to this technology is MocoSpace.
Boston-based MocoSpace just launched five new HTML5-fueled games for the company’s online game community of 25 million players, bumping its total number of available games to 30. In a nutshell, these five games are:
FunPark Friends (TagGames) is all about gamers creating their own theme park with rollercoasters, river rapids and Ferris wheels. Pet Alley (Alley Labs) is a game that allows players to establish and expand an empire of pet hotel from a simple pet domicile to a world-class tower. Dream Vacation (Kooky Panda) enables players to become jetsetters and hop from one exotic locale to the next, playing fun mini-games, invite friends and be rewarded with gifts and badges. Crazy Gems (Bushido IT) is a timed, colorful puzzle game filled with special items hop from level to level. Last but not least, Private Joe: Urban Warfare (hotBazooka Studios) is a fast-paced action game populated by soldiers and loaded with many weapons to choose from.
MocoSpace’s CEO Justin Siegel explained via an email interview what he feels are the distinguishing strengths in their slate of games, especially the new additions to their line-up: “The MocoSpace experience of combining games with our community is much closer to the experience Facebook offers on the Web. In short, it’s a very social experience. These particular games are very well done and really show off what HTML5 is capable of on a mobile phone.”
At the same time Siegel recognizes the current challenges in creating fast-playing, visually smooth HTML5 games.
“I think we are pretty much there for some of the simpler games,” he said. “But it will be a few years before you can play Plants vs Zombies with a comparable experience.”
Going hand-in-hand with the play-on-any-modern-browser accessibility is the free-to-play side of these games. For players to get into MocoSpace’s games, in exchange they’ll accept advertisements and also be offered monetization of virtual goods for each of these games.
With HTML5 continually adding features and gain greater appeal among the game development community, coupled with the nonstop growth of features in the mobile device hardware that drives the browsers and program code, MocoSpace’s long-term commitment may prove itself to be logical. In the near term, the company is putting its money where its mouth is. MocoSpace has created a $2 million HTML5 Game Developer Fund, part of which was allocated to the developers behind the five new games.
However, MocoSpace’s CEO foresees a time when they won‘t need to offer a sprinkling of sugar to drive developers to create games for their community.
At the same time, as HTML5 games become more complex, more resources will be required to create a competitive game.
“No question the quality of the games is increasing. The costs will as well,” Siegel added.
For now, MocoSpace is more than keeping pace with what their growing community requires by offering what they feel are best-of-breed HTML5 games for the mobile browser. In so doing, they make it possible for almost anyone to try being a theme park manager, pet hotel owner, and traveler.