Aside from the money-making behemoths like Candy Crush Saga, one of the most interesting trends in mobile gaming is the rise of flash-in-the-pan viral hits like Flappy Bird and Timberman. These games takes seconds to learn, days to master, are free or cost a few bucks each, and are basically disposable after the initial rush of hype. I know plenty of people who’ve gone through a number of those games and have said things to the effect of “I bet I could make a game like that.”
Unlike engines and kits like Unity or GameSalad, Playr doesn’t require a powerful PC or professional-tier tools to get started — all development takes place on the phone. Well, “development” might be too strong a word for what you’re doing in the app. When you first put the app on your iPhone, you’re given access to five templates for simple games like a vertical 2D shooter or Doodle Jump.
After choosing one of these templates, you can edit the sprites in the game as well as the audio that plays during gameplay, all using images and sounds on your phone, captured with the camera, or recorded with the microphone. It only takes a few minutes to create and share one of these micro-games. Once you’ve saved your project, it becomes available to the nascent social network forming within the app, which features the top new games and lets you follow friends to see what they’re making and playing.
Galzerano says he wants the app to feel a bit like Vine — a deceptively simple tool that will allow people to create short but fun experiences.
If the first five game templates don’t cover the kind of game you’d like to make, you can pick up an additional five for a dollar each as in-app purchases or for free by racking up points in games made by others. Galzerano says he’s looking to bring on a game designer to help him create more diverse templates for the app, and also plans to allow users to modify variables like spawn rates or movement speed in the not-too-distant future so that each game can feel a bit more unique.
More than 12,000 people have downloaded Playr to date, and together those users have created more than 13,000 games within the app. While the concept of enabling people to make their own game content isn’t new (even on phones and tablets), the fact that Galzerano has removed as much complexity as possible while still giving off the impression that the user has “made a game” could give the app a chance at being mainstream in a way that Unity or Unreal could never be, given their starting position as professional tools and not fun toys for hobbyists.