Well Played: Come2Play Releases Open Source Multi-Player API for Casual Gaming

As the concept of the “social graph” began to gain focus and attention, a buzz around the notion of multi-player social games began to grow as well. How cool would it be to play a game of pong between two users of a social network, right? And yet most multi-player games are limited to Chess, Checkers, and Poker. It’s not that there’s a shortage of companies developing casual games—in fact, money is being poured into the space in truck loads. Yet the multi-player games we were teased about have failed to materialize so far. Don’t despair though because salvation is upon us and it comes in the form of Come2Play’s multi-player API.

In my initial review of Come2Play I dubbed them the “Ning of social gaming networks“. Today they are upping the ante by putting out an open source multi-player API aimed at allowing Flash game developers to create real multi-player games.

The logic behind Come2Play’s move is to free game developers from matters revolving around the infrastructure necessary to drive multi-player games. The company believes it can catalyze a multi-player casual game revolution by removing this barrier and doing all the heavy lifting itself, specifically: hosting the infrastructure, providing emulations, and delivering distribution and reporting.

Released under the GNU Lesser General Public License, the API currently supports two players and will be gradually ratcheted-up to include a theoretically unlimited number of players. Developers will be able to create multiplayer games using ActionScript 2/3 which they should feel more comfortable with than server side scripting languages such as .NET, Java, and PHP. Social features that can be leveraged through the API include: Game rooms for up to 60 players, chat, leader board, ranking system, tokens, reward system and an ad-space-sharing mechanism.

Come2Play’s API could be perceived as a “honey trap” for several reasons. First, game developers can focus on developing games, rather than developing and maintaining infrastructure. Second, they get to keep all in-game ad revenue. Third, the developers get instant game distribution through Come2Play’s publisher network. Plus, all games can be automatically ported to Facebook and OpenSocial apps.

And now comes the trap (it is not as bad as it sounds). First, games built upon the API must be hosted on Come2Play’s infrastructure. Second, the games will be published in Come2Play’s game galleries and channels by default. Third, Come2Play reserves the right to display ads in the game wrappers and in the pre-game loading screen. The company splits this revenue 50/50 with publishers. CEO Alon Barzilay indicates that the company is open to flexible options in regards to the last two points. However, this will have to be done on a business development level.

So no more excuses… Can someone please develop multi-player pong for me…?