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Of the few markets in which Flash is still relevant, gaming is perhaps the largest. Despite the fact that Adobe seems intent on killing Flash, for many game developers, Flash is still a necessity.

The big question, of course, is for how long? There's a lot of excitement about HTML5, and some game developers have actually been experimenting with HTML5 game development.

One such developer is Wooga. With approximately 50m active daily users playing its games, it's the third largest developer of social games and a natural pick for Facebook, which was looking for a partner willing to experiment with HTML5 game development. 

For Facebook, HTML5-based games make a lot of sense. The world's largest social network has built a multi-billion dollar ecosystem around social gaming, but there's a huge problem: as more and more users interact with the Facebook service through mobile devices, more and more users are unable to play the Flash-based games that have become so popular and lucrative.

So Wooga set to work building an HTML5 game, Pocket Island, which launched in October 2011. But it never really took off. In a blog post on its blog, Wooga explained:

...while there have been games that have delivered on some of the promises the technology offers, the games themselves weren’t up to the standards of native apps.  Problems such as a long initial load time, lack of sound on mobile and the reliance on being connected to the internet were all big problems. When the game originally launched on Facebook’s mobile platform, users simply weren’t used to there being no app icon to quickly return to the game. One quick press of the home button would return them to the home screen with no clear direction how to return. Such limitations had a knock-on effect to the game’s growth.

Development was a pain too. "What is a simple task on native apps can be a decidedly more complex and time consuming task with HTML5," the company wrote. And there were significant limitations that made it difficult to provide a great experience. For instance, for the game to function, a stable internet connection is a must.

Wooga attempted to address some of these issues, and did, but apparently had little justification to maintain Pocket Island. So yesterday it announced that Pocket Island's days on Facebook had come to an end.

For Facebook, Pocket Island's departure would seem to be a real blow to the company's efforts to extend its social gaming ecosystem to mobile devices. But there's good news for developers: Wooga has released the Pocket Island source code under an open-source license. According to the company, "The promise of HTML5 is still an exciting one and while the time for mass market implementation may not be in 2012, we’re confident its time will come."

With the source code for what Wooga hoped would be "one of the world’s most advanced HTML5 games" now in the hands of talented developers around the world, that time may come sooner than later, but whether it comes soon enough for Facebook is another matter altogether.

Patricio Robles

Published 22 June, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)

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Austen

Do you know if any other games are built in html 5 out there?

about 4 years ago

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html5 games

nice info, i always use inurl: “powered by wordpress” “leave a comment”

almost 4 years ago

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Exactly Right

Nice post.

I have developed several extremely successful web-based games. (millions of monthly eyeballs). HTML5 is still an extremely poor choice for game development. There are devout evangelists who will scream bloody-murder whenever someone says that, but it's the obvious truth.

(And if anyone disagrees, don't tell me why you disagree: Post a link to a game that can compare with games on Kongregate. )

HTML5 games are sub-par. Period.

But that's not the only basis for comparison (although it is enough). The bigger problem is that the development time isn't just twice as long, it's often four or five times longer due to the lack of IDE's and cross-platform issues (and btw, there aren't supposed to be any!)

So if anyone is eager to word harder to develop a significantly poorer gaming experience, then HTML5 is for you. For the rest of us, Flash is still the #1 platform (by a very healthy margin) for serious web-based game development.

Flash was deeply injured by Steve Jobs. But let's remember WHY Jobs hates Flash. (Hint: It's all about the money from the app store). But any honest assessment of multimedia platforms still puts Flash in the lead. (By far).

Is HTML5 the future? Yes, probably. But this is *business* not philosophy. Anyone building a game in HTML5 today is taking an absolutely stupid risk from a business perspective.

almost 4 years ago

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