YoYo Games' Sandy Duncan on why HTML5 will resurrect Flash games portals and herald the end of Nintendo's hardware business
Fundamentally important for the future of games
Although it looks like Facebook has now delayed its Project Spartan reveal to a separate event, on the eve of its F8 conference, we thought we'd ask some of the companies in the vanguard of the mobile-social-browser revolution what they thought about all thing HTML5.
Here are the responses from YoYo Games' CEO Sandy Duncan.
How important do you think HTML5, and by extension technology such as Facebook's Project Spartan, will be for mobile gaming?
Sandy Duncan: HTML5 is fundamentally important for the future of all games, possibly even consoles.
Flash games sites have been in decline for some time now. There's obviously no Flash on iOS devices, so these sites have been effectively blocked by Apple. As mobile has grown as a games platform these sites have been losing traffic. I think this could now change.
With HTML5, I see Flash games sites having a potential new lease of life both on mobile and on the desktop, where they'll get a platform that lets them break free from the restrictions of Flash (or Apple, if you see it that way).
They do have a challenge, though, in terms of getting large volumes of high quality HTML5 games made quickly.
Do you think Project Spartan will mean Facebook becomes a much more significant part of the mobile gaming ecosystem?
We need to find out more about Spartan, but I see it as an important catalyst that will help promote the pace of development of HTML5 games inside or outside of the Facebook gaming platform.
Hence, it's no surprise to me that Zynga snapped up Dextrose, and Disney paid $20+ million for RocketPack. Both of these studios had credible HTML5 games engines under development.
What, specifically, is YoYo Games doing in this area?
We're working on GameMaker: HTML5. We think we have a game-oriented development tool that can fill the huge gap left by Flash.
And the great news for GameMaker developers is that we're running full steam ahead to get GameMaker: Studio out this year. With Studio, you can target HTML5 and also produce native apps for iOS and Android, so you can fit on and off deck as far as app stores, go as well as hedging for browser performance issues, especially on Android.
In terms of content, we're planning on releasing our top iOS/Android titles like They Need to Be Fed on Facebook and monetised using FB coins. For the first time we'll be looking at Facebook as an alternative to the Apple App Store or Android Market, and from late October, every game we publish will be both native and HTML5 wherever possible.
We're also developing HTML5 social games in GameMaker, and we'll use the advanced features of the forthcoming GameMaker: Studio to deliver these both as native apps on iOS, Android and Symbian, as well as Spartan-compatible HTML5 games.
App stores have been incredibly good distribution networks so do you think the rise of web technology will reduce their importance, or can both types of distribution prosper?
Discovery and monetisation, though tough, are well defined in the current generation of app stores so I don't predict any rapid decline.
I expect we'll see a resurgence of existing browser game websites such as Miniclip as well as the emergence of new 'stores' which will deliver HTML5 content. Facebook is the company to watch in this area: we believe it can rival any platform.
However, it needs to get its act together providing a much better consumer and developer experience by supporting discovery in a more imaginative way.
Do you think the rise of HTML5 will impact Apple's position as the most powerful mobile gaming OS?
Still, there will be a better experience for consumers buying content from the App Store for the next 12 months or maybe longer.
Having said that, delivering native HTML5 app (i.e. without a browser), plus advanced cloud storage is my bet for the future of all applications, not just games, not just mobile, but I don't expect we'll be seeing any of that in 2011.
Similarly, in future we won't be thinking about mobile versus desktop. That distinction has started to erode with the introduction of iPad and other tablets. Next year we'll see a raft of ultrabooks, which will continue to add to that dilution.
I'd watch Microsoft with Windows 8 too: I think it's rewriting the rulebook for what we expect from an OS. In addition, I think HTML5 is so important it's the beginning of the end for Nintendo as a hardware company, and Sony will need to get a platform strategy in place fast.
Thanks to Sandy for his time.
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