After 25 Titles & 5M+ Installs, Game Closure Goes Public, Open Source With Its HTML5 Game Development Kit

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Over the last year, it seems that we kept hearing that quality, legit HTML5 gaming was right around the corner. Well, here we are two months into 2013, and the market is still yet to see a single, widely adopted (or even slightly adopted) flagship HTML5 title.

However, there has been some progress. The W3C finally finalized the HTML5 Canvas2D implementation recently, which should mean that the core Canvas HTML5 technology that is geared towards graphics and gaming is close to being ready for prime time. Now, if Google and Apple can just improve their mobile browsers, it could really move the needle, and the world may finally begin to see high-quality, HTML5 games and apps.

In the meantime, since emerging two years ago, Game Closure has been on a mission to re-implement the entire mobile HTML5 technology stack in an effort to help developers bypass the shortcomings of Apple and Google’s browsers. The StartX grad, which turned down acquisition offers from Zynga and Facebook to raise $12 million from an impressive list of investors (including SV Angel, Yuri Milner, Joi Ito, CRV, Benchmark, Greylock and General Catalyst), has spent the past two years building its game development engine to make it easier for developers to create, host, and deploy HTML5-based, multiplayer games on iOS, Android, and Facebook.

The engine has been in beta up until now, helping developers publish 25 titles and attract over five million installs, but today Game Closure is officially making its “DevKit” public. And, it’s making it free and open source, to boot.

GameClosure co-founder and CEO Michael Carter says that the engine was designed to help developers build fast, native games. To do so, the team has mapped an HTML5 development process onto its native game engine so that they can increase performance and get access to quicker development cycles.

The startup doesn’t currently offer any paid products publicly, instead its DevKit is 100 percent free and open source, and Carter says that Game Closure intends for it to stay that way. The goal, he continues, is to get these tools into the hands of every game studio, independent team and web hobbyist to allow them “to push this technology to the limits.”

The startup offers two licensing options, which are designed to be complementary, including the GPLv3 and the Game Closure Free License. In tandem, the allow developers to have “source code access to the DevKit,” while still being able to release proprietary games.

Furthermore, the idea is for these games to be automatically suitable for worldwide publication, to run on every major platform and to be optimized for quick reaction to monetization and user metrics after launch. In the big picture, Carter hopes that these tools will allow studios to begin hiring from the growing pool of web programmers — an engineering base that hasn’t been able to make the jump from desktop social games to mobile (and to make money while doing it), he says.

With the new free, open source DevKit, engineers don’t have to be a part of a huge team or top studio to build a top 10 game; instead a team of two or three developers can build a game in under a month, the CEO says. “We want this to be the deus ex machina for the indie, bootsrapped gaming startup.” The open source game development engine allows developers to take an existing expertise — building HTML5 and Javascript web apps — and apply those skills to building high-quality, native mobile games for iOS and Android.

In the trailer below, you’ll be able to see thousands of independent sprites on screen, operating glitch-free. An iPhone 5 running this demo, Carter tels us, can render 4,000 to 8,000 sprites at 30 to 60 fps, and this is just from a few lines of code the team put together in about 10 minutes to test the performance. If it can produce that kind of quality and speed consistently at scale, we just might be headed into an era when HTML5 games can actively compete with their pure-native counterparts. And that prospect is pretty exciting.

Find GameClosure’s DevKit here and check out the trailer below: