August 26, 2013

Goko Reboot after HTML5 Debacle Brings New Mobile Strategy with It

Some out there may well remember Goko, the HTML5 gaming platform that launched and shut down in the space in just under half a week. But Goko’s first failure didn’t leave the company shattered, and as such, plans a full re-launch, bringing a suite of lessons learned, new technology, and a new mobile strategy along for the ride.

Goko’s reboot brings quite a bit of change into play as it tries to get in on the rapidly growing mobile gaming market. One of the biggest changes comes in the technology side of things, as HTML5 accelerator Ludei is joining in to help bring Goko’s games to life and ready for play in both iOS and Android (NewsAlert) flavors. That’s not the only big shakeup, however, as Goko’s even got a new CEO in the form of Kate Connally, casual gaming veteran of several companies like and AddictingGames, who took over for Goko’s founder, Ted Griggs.

All these changes join what Goko already had—specifically, an HTML5 platform that could stand some shoring up and some licenses for several well-known titles—and looks to make the company overall much more formidable than it was going in. Packing licenses for two major card games, including “Dominion” and “Settlers of Catan,” the company has some very big names to its credit. But the problem, at least originally, was more one of presentation than of actual properties.

Goko found early on that HTML5 was not going to go very well for presenting action games, especially turn-based card games, which Goko was looking to bring out. Audio support wasn’t the greatest, and the platform didn’t do well when large numbers of users got into the mix. But bringing in Ludei, along with some fresh investors, allowed Goko to see that there was a whole new way to present games, as a kind of HTML5-native app hybrid. This opened up fresh options for Goko and its games, giving the company a way back into the field. At last report, Goko is currently in the final stages of submitting “Dominion” to Apple (News Alert) with an eye toward bringing Catan out in the early going of 2014.

It’s not a lesson that’s an easy one for any company to learn, but sometimes what a company believes will work just doesn’t when it makes contact with the real world. But with a willingness to make changes and more closely go with what works—as Goko’s doing right now—sometimes a situation that looks like it could shatter a company can be turned around into fresh funding and a whole new way to present a product. Naturally, it’s going to take some pretty substantial marketing efforts to get Goko’s product line out in front of potential players—especially given how stuffed the larger market is in mobile gaming—but the end result should be one that lets Goko play the game it came to play.

HTML5 is still gaining ground in terms of use, though it’s not for everyone. As the technology improves, it may well give companies like Goko the advantages needed to play in a wider arena, but for right now, it’s serving pretty well as a hybrid technology, and as part of a larger philosophy, the kind that will hopefully give Goko a chance at greatness.

Edited by Blaise McNamee


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