In the Apps vs. HTML5 War, Goko Tries to Make Cross-Platform Gaming Work

Today, Goko is unveiling its platform that helps developers build cross-platform games using HTML5, the controversial technology that many say isn’t ready for primetime.

But, contrary to popular opinion, Goko argues that it is possible — and has games to prove it.

The reason why the subject is worth debating at all is because HTML5 offers one major advantage over other technologies, like Flash: It allows developers to create one version of a game that can run across multiple platforms, including Facebook, the Web and mobile.

Not only does that save developers money, it also lets consumers play the same version of the game on whatever device they choose.

As a demonstration of its platform’s capabilities, Goko is releasing Dominion — a real-world card game with a huge following — across multiple digital platforms.

It goes live today on Facebook, Google+,, Android and iOS.

Goko is also launching a few games exclusively on its own Web site, including Catan World, based on the popular board game, Settlers of Catan; Forbidden City, a tile-placing digital game; War Factory, a puzzle and war strategy mashup; and All the King’s Men, a tower defense game.

The problems with HTML5 have been well documented. For example, in June, Wooga, a social game developer in Germany, said it was no longer developing games in HTML5, after encountering a number of problems, including long load times, lack of sound and reliance on Internet connection.

Ted Griggs, Goko’s CEO, acknowledges that there are some limitations to the technology, but for most card and board games, it’s good enough today.

To prove that its platform is up to the task, Goko secured licensing deals with 150 well-known board and card games.

Starting today, the company’s platform will also be available to developers looking for help creating, distributing and monetizing games across multiple platforms.

As part of the launch, the company is announcing that it has raised $8 million in a first round of founding from Redpoint Ventures and Alsop Louie Partners.

Previously, Griggs and Goko’s other founder, Kevin Binkley, started Electric Gravity, which was acquired by Microsoft and renamed MSN Gaming Zone. Other members of the team are from OpenFeint (now Gree), Digital Chocolate, Playdom and Zynga.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus