Apps Rule! Wooga No Longer Distributing HTML5 Games on Facebook.

Wooga, a German-based social game developer, said it will no longer be developing games in HTML5, after a conducting a six-month long experiment that included distributing one game through Facebook.

The decision is yet another blow to the social network, which is struggling to find a way to monetize its mobile application as more people access Facebook from their phones.

As the fourth-largest game developer on the social network, Wooga was chosen to be one of the first partners to develop a game using HTML5, which would enable users to play games on Facebook through either a browser or a mobile device. However, the company has told AllThingsD that it is planning to announce today that the experiment has been largely unsuccessful, and that it will no longer make games in HTML5.

Clarification: To be clear, Wooga still remains a close partner of Facebook’s and will continue to distribute other mobile games through the social network — just not ones using HTML5.

Instead, the game developer will be focusing its resources on building native games for Apple’s iOS, which demonstrates the strength of that platform for discoverability.

“Given the excitement around the technology, the buzz in the media, the buzz among engineers you’d bump into at conferences, it would have been absurd not to at least test the technology,” said Philipp Moeser, Wooga’s co-founder and CTO, in a blog post.

Over the past few months, Wooga assigned as many as 10 employees to the game, but there were still too many issues remaining. “The mobile app market is a billion-dollar business that HTML5 could significantly disrupt. It has the potential to be a complete game changer, but the technology is not there yet,” Moeser added.

Despite several efforts to promote its game, Wooga said very few players ever discovered it.

After Wooga launched Magic Land Island in October, it was played a total of 1.3 million times and experienced a retention rate of only 5 percent. For comparison, Wooga said that Diamond Dash, on Apple’s iOS, was downloaded more than 18 million times, and had a 50 percent retention rate during the same time period.

As one of the biggest game developers on Facebook, Wooga will also continue to develop Facebook games for the PC, which are typically developed using Adobe’s Flash technology. It will also use Facebook Connect in its mobile games on iOS. As part of the announcement, Wooga said it will rename the game Pocket Island, and will make the code available to the open-source community to continue development work on HTML5, which is still in its early stages.

Wooga said it had encountered a number of problems with the technology, including long initial load times, lack of sound and reliance on Internet connection. Additionally, when the game first launched, there was no icon for it, so once players left Facebook they were often confused as to how to get back in and play.

Wooga also made the decision recently to remove at least three of its games from the Google+ platform, after not gaining enough users to justify it.


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