Even though Facebook admitted that its detour into HTML5 didn’t fully pay off for its mobile strategy, a host of startups like Ludei and GameClosure are still betting on the technology.
They’re hoping that increasing complexity of dealing with all those Android devices plus new iOS formats, along with improvements in HTML5 standards will eventually make it viable for game developers.
Ludei, a San Francisco-based company, said today that it pushed a single game called iBasket to seven different app stores from a single codebase today. They’re running all HTML5 versions of the game on iOS, Google Play, Amazon’s Appstore, the Nook store, Facebook, Firefox and Chrome from single a code base.
“There’s a perception that HTML5 kind of failed us, or that we failed it,” said Eneko Knorr, Ludei’s CEO and founder. “There was a lot of negativity.”
He said while Ludei has about 1,500 active projects on the platform, the company wanted to do a proof of concept with an app. So they took their most successful game, iBasket, which has had 15 million downloads, and revamped it to work on seven different stores and platforms simultaneously.
“If we’re going to convince people that this is a reality, we can’t wait for other developers to finish their games in 90 to 150 days,” he said. “We wanted to do this now.”
They also face competition from GameClosure, which made its developer kit public last week and is backed by more than $12 million in venture funding. Then there are a number of cross-platform tools providers like Spaceport and Marmalade.
iBasket is a game that runs at 60 frames-per-second and Ludei’s layer includes payments, advertising and social features like multi-player mode. There are extended APIs that boost performance, a game engine called CAAT, extensions for push notifications, and a cloud service to manage updates and analytics.
“In real time, you’ll get back these seven packages — APKs (Android application package file) for Amazon and Google Play, an iOS app store package. We’re an infrastructure component and we can also provide a game engine,” said Ludei’s president, Joe Monastiero, who saw Intel acquire parts of of his previous startup appMobi yesterday.
The company says that more than 150 HTML5 games have been built from the platform, including Onslaught Defense and Lunch Bug from Lost Decade Games, Rhino Hero from shortblackmocca and Ready to Roll from D Lewis.
The company is keeping its services free until probably the second quarter of this year. “It will probably remain free for the majority of developers and we’ll have a threshold based on game success,” Monastiero said. “We believe about 80 percent of the developers will use it for free forever.”
Ludei has been bootstrapped with $2 million from Knorr and his incubator Ideateca.
“This is a very interesting space. We’ve been in the cold water by ourselves for a long time, and we expect others to jump in once it gets warm,” Monastiero said.
Facebook tried to promote HTML5 game developers up until the middle of last year, in part because it didn’t want to be so strategically dependent on semi-rivals like Google and Apple. But it abandoned that strategy once it became clear that its own applications, plus third-party games, had performance issues.