Corona Labs is publicly launching Corona Cloud today, a cross-platform social gaming network that brings multiplayer support, leaderboards and achievements, chat and push notifications to a mobile gaming app through a single RESTful API. For developers, it means an easy way to add social features to their game that, unlike Game Center, can connect players outside of platform-specific communities.
Corona Cloud springs from the acquisition of Dubai startup Game Minion by the Palo Alto-based Corona Labs, a deal announced late last year. Corona Labs COO David Rangel told me in an interview that since then, the now-combined companies have been refining the product and making it ready for wide deployment, along with easy integration for existing Corona SDK cross-platform app development customers.
“We’ve been working on finishing a few things they were already doing, adding a few more, and this is the version one launch,” Rangel said. “[Our private beta] has gone very well. A lot of the stuff was already working when we brought Game Minion on board, so much of it was just about refining and adding a few more things. We also wanted to make it so Corona developers specifically could get really great seamless integration.”
The idea was to provide a lot of added value with the minimum possible fuss; Corona Cloud operates as a distinct service separate from Corona Labs’ general SDK and development tools, but it’s also clearly designed to speak specifically to Corona’s existing customers, and to bring more to its original platform.
I asked Rangel about having to compete with tools built into mobile platforms, like Apple’s iOS, as well as recent problems in the space like GREE shuttering OpenFeint and the effect that might have had on developers. He acknowledged that Game Center is a challenge (it’s free, and offers a lot of the same functionality), but countered that Corona Cloud has some considerable advantages.
“The advantage of Corona Cloud is that it’s cross-platform,” Rangel said. “So Game Center only works on iOS. Any of our features work across any platform, iOS, Android and with the web APIs, Windows Phone and Blackberry, any device. The other big advantage is that with Corona Cloud you can redesign the interface if you’re also a Corona SDK developer right now.”
Game Center, by contrast, uses its own branding and design across all apps, which isn’t ideal for devs looking to curate and build their own brands. And as for the OpenFeint mess, Rangel says that GREE made a crucial mistake in trying to force developers on to their own beta SDK and away from the OpenFeint platform they were used to using, and that misstep with regards to the transition can actually benefit Corona by bringing in disaffected customers left high and dry by the change.
Corona Cloud will have a tiered pricing plan, including a free entry-level and paid tiers that add API calls and additional features. Corona has a large existing developer pool to sell to, so this could be a very lucrative add-on business if it does indeed prove to be on par with the shuttered OpenFeint and other options out there currently available.