Blackstorm Labs, a startup that’s working to build technology that brings developers tools to get out games and apps more quickly through HTML5, today said it is working with Rakuten to build a new entity called R Games that will serve as a hub for games in Japan and Asia.
Blackstorm Labs has been working with Rakuten for some time on the project, which was rumored last November, but it is coming out officially this evening, and co-founder Ernestine Fu said that working with Rakuten dovetails with users in Asia generally having a more progressive worldview of app distribution. Apps running on Blackstorm Labs’ technology are designed to boot instantly and have the same quality of a regular app without having to download large files.
“If you think about any new distribution platform you try to create, you need to have premier amazing content on that platform,” Fu said. “The game studio to feed some initial content. But at some point we’ll open to additional developers.”
R Games is more of a “joint spinout,” with Blackstorm basically handling education and development of the technology and relaying that over to Rakuten. R Games already has dozens of people working on games that will be distributed through Blackstorm Labs’ HTML5 technology, and is tapping big brands like Taito to make games like Bubble Bobble and Pac-Man. The startup has one board seat in the venture.
Blackstorm Labs isn’t actually shipping any of its existing employees off to R Games, which would certainly not be a scalable situation if it were to seek additional partnerships and deals like these. But late last year, it became clear that the technology had an opportunity to create, at the very least, a thriving gaming ecosystem based around HTML5 technology, Fu said.
“We built within two days this quick bubble shooter game — it was not polished at all,” Fu said. “We were able to take that game and show it to the folks at Rakuten. It was all these things that were rough but it was one of those big moments that there are new distribution platforms. At the time HTML5 tech was so rapidly changing, Google and Apple were a part of that,”
Games still continues to be one of the strongest showcases of the technology, with the ability to quickly dive into a high-fidelity gaming experience that can tap into more social elements across different platforms, like Facebook Messenger. But Blackstorm Labs’ technology can theoretically go beyond games, if developers are able to use that technology to figure out new use cases for applications that can quickly spin up and launch within a browser while having the same level of quality of a downloaded app.
If that’s the case — and that was one of the core elements of Blackstorm Labs’ pitch — then developers may be able to sidestep the cluttered App Store completely if it gets wide adoption. The actual applications could theoretically be embedded within links in your News Feed or messenger clients while still behaving like a typical app. Getting that technology widely adopted is still going to be an uphill battle, but part of the reason the company started off with games is that they have very high performance requirements.