Interview

Mobile devs will 'soon be fed up of native app stores', reckons HTML5 specialist Tylted

Mobile devs will 'soon be fed up of native app stores', reckons HTML5 specialist Tylted
When a mobile user whips out their smartphone for some gaming, they go to the on-device app store. The app store is a single, visible location for games distribution.

Try as it might, HTML5 has arguably been unable to serve up an equivalent.

But companies such as Tylted are trying to change this, gathering HTML5 games onto a single platform that's accessible through the mobile web.

And just last week, the platform announced 10 new developer partners that would be joining the Tylted platform, including TinyCo and Slingo.

So, to find out more about Tylted and the state of HTML5 gaming on mobile, we spoke to the company's platform director Christian Montoya.

Pocket Gamer: Tylted isn't the only HTML5 gaming platform out there. How does it compare to the competition in terms of userbase and the size of its portfolio?

Christian Montoya: Tylted has the largest audience on the mobile web, but more importantly, the most engagement too.

We already have a large catalogue of great mobile games, and with this initial group of platform partners we are more than doubling our offering, making our catalogue one of the largest.

That being said, we are still focused on quality, not quantity. We are curating the very best HTML5 games for our users while maximising engagement and performance for our partners.

We believe that with careful curation and an obsessive, data-driven focus on performance, we can offer the best platform for publishing HTML5 games.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of HTML5 as you see them?

The clear advantages of HTML5 are cross-platform support (write once, run anywhere) and the low cost and low overhead of development. We also have the advantage of frequent and immediate updates since our games naturally live in the cloud.

Additionally, the economics of user-acquisition are far superior on the mobile web when compared to apps. For our users, the advantage is they can play on any device with no downloads.

We don't believe there are any disadvantages in HTML5 itself, but the one perceived disadvantage is that browser and device manufacturers are not moving quickly enough to support the features in HTML5.

Even so, there is a lot we can do with it now, and to anyone that would say that "HTML5 is not there yet," I would say: "It's getting there sooner than you think."

HTML5 was supposed to be the next big thing in mobile gaming, but it doesn't seem to have been very widely adopted. What do you think is holding it back?

The big problem with HTML5 being widely adopted is that developers are using it to do what we consider to be an old model, which is app publishing.

Developers are wrapping their HTML5 games in native apps just to deal with all the challenges of the app stores: limited control, lack of discovery and exorbitant user acquisition costs. We set out to build an alternative to the app stores because we knew all of the advantages of publishing games on the mobile web. It was just a matter of building the ecosystem to support it.

When developers see the case studies from what we are doing right now, it will be impossible for them to avoid HTML5.

Advancements in HTML5 gaming seem to be outpaced by advancements in mobile hardware. Do you foresee a future where HTML5 is used for graphically rich games or 3D titles?

Definitely. The capabilities already exist for 3D graphics in HTML5, it's just a matter of the device manufacturers supporting it.

We've had very promising discussions with some major players who are working to give the same hardware support to HTML5 in the browser that native apps have currently, and once that happens, HTML5 will no longer be outpaced by the hardware.

App stores are preloaded onto devices, whereas HTML5 platforms require the user to navigate to a URL. Does this mean app stores will remain the dominant distribution model for mobile games for the foreseeable future?

This seems like a silly question, since browsers are preloaded onto all devices, and a URL destination doesn't have to deal with the crowding or fragmentation of the app stores.

The interesting thing is, the desktop world started with apps and eventually moved to mobile web and 'apps in the cloud.' The mobile world has – at least for now – moved in the opposite direction.

Mobile is stuck where desktop was 20 years ago. We are confident that it's only a matter of time until developers will be fed up with all the challenges of dealing with the app stores and will begin taking advantage of the mobile web instead.

How will Tylted – and the general state of HTML5 gaming – change over the next 6-12 months?

We see a huge wave of the app world's big publishers developing and launching their content in HTML5 and on Tylted.
Thanks to Christian for his time.
Staff Writer

PocketGamer.biz's news editor 2012-2013

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Owain Bennallack Publisher
I tend to agree that apps and by extension app stores are a weird evolutionary throwback that won't last.

If they do it won't be for technical reasons, rather something like ease of monetisation or (relatively) superior discoverability, compared to the open Web.
Fraser Ross MacInnes Product/Design Director at Danke Games
I think that's the important point here - HTML5 is a markup language that can be used to make, among many other things, games. It's not a platform in and of itself and it certainly isn't limited to the web. It's certainly not set to disrupt the current native app paradigm in any significant way I don't think, even though it may be used to build more titles.
jon jordan
GREE and DeNA are doing good business with HTML5 games even if published through app stores
Fraser Ross MacInnes Product/Design Director at Danke Games
I don't agree. The problem with this is it is a strategy focussed on solving developer/publisher problems and not user problems. Users don't care that HTML5 makes development cheaper or cross platform deployment simpler, they just want great content. They have shown over 30 billion times on iOS alone that they really don't mind using application stores to download apps, so HTML5 or mobile optimised web games are going to have to offer something very special to tear them away from that deployment paradigm. Also, let's not forget, HTML5 can be used to ease cross platform development pain in the native world too, so that's not a benefit limited to web-based content.

I do think a solid HTML5 marketplace that sits on your home screen as an alternative to the app store would be nice, but only where the content can go toe to toe with native apps and only where the service (billing, Game Centre etc.) is also comparable - and that's a tough nut to crack.
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