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Multi-Platform News: New HTML5 Games Company and Developer Platform Launches as Goko

Gabe Alvaro
United States
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Update: According to @gokogames on Twitter, www.goko.com is now up. They also mention it will be up and down all day as they make updates. It appears to be down to me so it may be in the process of an update.

Goko Launches Today With Official Dominion, Settlers of Catan Social/MMO, Plus HTML5 Developer Platform
Goko is a new HTML5 games company and developer platform. They chose to officially announce their company on the same day as the launch of their flagship digital board game, the highly anticipated deck-building game Dominion. Goko will tell you that many people think HTML5 games just suck, but it appears that they are out to try and prove those people wrong, or at least capture an audience big enough to eclipse them.

I'm going to post a few interesting facts about Goko, whom you should understand is first and foremost a developer platform and game publisher/licenser second (I'll come back to this part). One fact, is that they needed a great game in order to demonstrate the power of HTML5 to a large audience. Rio Grande Games chose them and that's what they have been working on for the last year. Now, not only have they released a digital version of Dominion, but they are also releasing today an SDK (software developer kit) that will give developers tools to create, distribute and monetize HTML5 social games across iOS, Android, Facebook, Google+ and Windows 8 and the web. The platform features include player authentication, leaderboards and achievements, game hosting and testing, virtual goods and virtual stores, and payments. Developers can build their own games on the platform, or partner with Goko to build a game based on one of the company’s many licenses.

Another fact is that Goko has been funded to the tune of $8 Million. One more fact, which I expect our readers will be inerested to know is that they have signed licenses to digitize over 150 hobby board and card games which as of yet have only ever existed in print. They're talking real designer hobby games, not department store mainstream games. Among them: Catan (as an MMO), Citadels, Martin Wallace's Steam, Mayfair's Empire Builder, Tom Lehmann's Race for the Galaxy, and many others whose well-respected publishers and designers were impressed enough with concept to sign on over a year ago. No release dates, however, have yet been announced.

We learned back in November 2011 how Goko, then called FunSockets, wanted to "change the game" of digital board and card games from a social game perspective. We understand the concern of the iOS "purists" in our audience, especially in how it has related to expectations of the development of Dominion, that some believe HTML5 apps are and never can be as good as native apps. We are not agreeing or disagreeing. Rather, we see a company attempting to take an approach, and a very serious and costly one at that, to try and bring more (and potentially more than anybody else so far) board and card games to our digital devices. Because we view this space as still very young, we're less likely to judge the attempt until we've see it come to fuller fruition. Dominion is merely the start of what they, and the publishers and designers who have chosen to work with them, are attempting to bring forth.

So now Goko has launched their game site, Goko.com with four games to get them started: Dominion, a born-digital world debut of Reiner Knizia's Forbidden City, a multiplayer puzzle and strategy game known as All the King's Men, and a puzzle and war-strategy game named War Factory. All games are free to play though your web browser and soon on Facebook and Google+. Dominion is the only game so far slated for a promised app version for both iOS and Android.

Gamers interested in playing these new games can get started at Goko.com. Developers interested in building HTML5 games on the Goko platform can learn more and sign up for the SDK at developer.goko.com.

We'll leave you with a 90 second video that sums up what Goko does:

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