We’ve all experienced the pangs of envy when a game we want isn’t available on one platform or another. If you’re a MacBook Pro owner like me (and a dedicated Mac gamer), when you look for Mac games you step into a time machine — going backwards. PC owners saw the original Bioshock in 2007. I picked up the Mac version at the end of 2009 — two years later!
My example is an extreme one, but the fact is, it takes development shops time and money to port games between platforms and so there has to be a real business case to port a game over. When the stakes are high and games expensive to make, one bad decision can cost millions of dollars (Anybody know how many copies of Bioshock sold for the Mac?).
But the idea of porting is becoming less relevant in today’s world of social games. For example, a popular Facebook game is Happy Island. Let’s say I’ve got a game going on my Mac, and then my Mac dies. I’ve got an iPhone (and even an iPad), and my friend’s got an Android phone. You’d think between the iPhone OS and Android OS, I’d be able to get back into the game. Right?
Not so much. I’ve got to get my Mac fixed (or use someone else’s computer) to get back onto Happy Island. That’s because Crowdstar, makers of Happy Island, wrote the app in Flash. Maybe CrowdStar is content to work with an installed base of PCs and Macs. Maybe not, but to make the game for iPhones, iPads, and Android Phones, they’ve got to work around that pesky Flash issue. That means (1) hiring a development team, (2) spending money, and (3) waiting until the port is done, tested, and connecting with Facebook. That’s a really big, really expensive problem.
But like so many technology problems, as soon as you’ve thought of them there’s a start-up with a solution.
Enter Sibblingz, the latest company to come out of incubator YouWeb (Other companies, like Aurora Feint and CrowdStar, also got their start at YouWeb). Sibblingz, now in a private beta, is a toolset that allows companies like CrowdStar make mobile versions of their games — with minimal pain and cost, and maximum speed. “A solution like Sibblingz can have a dramatic impact on brands and developers looking to build a game that has scale from a cross-platform perspective,” said Michael Cai, Vice President of Video Games at the research firm, Interpret, LLC. “Right now it’s quite expensive to build a game on multiple platforms, and it’s a big hurdle for someone looking to create the next social game phenomena across devices.”
What makes Sibblingz notable is that the solution is both a toolset and a platform. That means the things you do in your mobile games travel between devices. You can start Happy Island on your PC, then move to your iPhone, then to your Android OS phone — and the gameplay is seamless. If you buy virtual goods inside Happy Island, they travel with you between devices. Essentially, your gaming profile is shared and you can play anywhere, anytime.
The Sibblingz toolset also allows games to be optimized for a given gaming platform. So a mouse click on the PC version of a game is translated to a tap on the iPad version. “Game play on the smart phone and tablet is different from social game play on the PC like Facebook,” said Peter Relan, Executive Chairman of CrowdStar. “By using the Sibblingz engine we can make a game optimized for the iPad that is connected to the same back-end data as the Facebook version.” Under the hood, games play to the hardware to keep the performance (especially graphics) up to speed.
This is an exciting development and the start of a very exciting time in mobile gaming. With Sibblingz, Happy Island on Facebook could become the next Farmville. It will be interesting to see how Sibblingz makes money — and what other players try to enter this burgeoning market. But in any case, the old method of porting between platforms is looking decidedly old-school.
For more details, check out the Sibblingz video and press release below:
With Sibblingz, developers will be able to save millions in game development costs and decrease their time to market on launching cross-platform. Sibblingz will allow them to reach the broadest possible consumer audience.
“A solution like Sibblingz can have a dramatic impact on brands and developers looking to build a game that has scale from a cross-platform perspective,” said Michael Cai, Vice President of Video Games at the research firm, Interpret, LLC. “Right now it’s quite expensive to build a game on multiple platforms, and it’s a big hurdle for someone looking to create the next social game phenomena across devices.”
With Sibblingz, a game can reach the hundreds of millions of smart phones and tablets flooding the consumer market in the coming year, having access to the many social games expected to be available on the devices.
“After gamers on social networks have played a cross-platform game that can be used across all devices, they’ll come to expect it from all games,” says Ben Savage, Founder of Sibblingz. “Adding these features to a game after it’s been developed is difficult and expensive. We look forward to a new era where a studio starts a title with Sibblingz, giving the title a great foundation to scale.”
Sibblingz will increase time to market of cross-platform launches, launching them in less than three months.
Also, Sibblingz will provide the ability to monetize free-to-play games with virtual goods based on a common production art pipeline.
“Our goal is to create high quality social games and experiences that are available on the most devices, so they can reach the largest audience in the shortest time,” said SiXiTS CEO, Euan Macdonald. “Sibblingz is the only avenue available that allows us to do that.”
Sibblingz is a YouWeb incubated social games technology firm with offices in Burlingame, California. The company offers the first game engine made for the multi-device world enabling developers to take advantage of the massive growth in PC and mobile social game adoption. The Sibblingz platform gives developers the ability to build a social game that plays across all devices including uninterrupted game play. Games built on Sibblingz, enable consumers to play a specific game and continue the experience across the most popular PC platform such as Facebook as well mobile platforms including Google’s Android and Apple’s iDevices.