If Rakuten can have its way, tomorrow's mobile games will be played on browsers, not apps.
So the biggest Japanese online retailer is teaming up with Blackstorm Labs to launch a social gaming platform called RGames to be based on HTML5, the language on which today's World Wide Web is built. The games will be playable via internet on smartphone and PC browsers.
The RGames platform currently offers a wide array of free games such as endless runner Pac-Run (licensed from Pacman) and a Space Invaders spinoff called Invader Blast.
RGames: A Rakuten And Blackstorm Labs Collaboration
RGames is under the operation of Rakuten Games Inc., a joint venture between Rakuten, the biggest ecommerce site in Japan, and Blackstorm Labs, a Silicon Valley startup company known for EverWing, the popular shoot-em-up games on Facebook Instant Games.
RGames offers free-to-play HTML5-based games, such as the aforementioned Pac-Run and Invader Blast, which was developed with Taito Corporation.
RGames not only serves as a platform for these games, but also as a social hub as it has features like gameplay sharing, score competition, and user challenges that give rewards. Thus, it promotes a social experience and community interaction.
Another feature is the Shop. In-game items can be purchased using Medals, the in-game currency that can be purchased using Rakuten Super Points from the shop.
And everything without downloading an app.
"While Japan's game industry is a global leader, there is still potential for growth, and we believe that much of this growth will come from the use of HTML5," Shigenori Araki, chief of Rakuten Games, said in an official statement. Araki has previous experiences with other gaming companies such as Take-Two Interactive, PopCap Games, and Electronic Arts.
HTML5: A Post-App Future Of Games?
HTML5 is the latest version of the HTML, the language used to create and power today's web browsers. Enabling it to run games can make browsers take the place of apps. Without the need to download files, gaming will be easier and faster. Also, without the need to move away from the browser, Rakuten games can keep its users within Rakuten's strongest turf: the web.
Araki hopes to change the mentality of people about web content. He also said the collaboration hoped to bridge the gap between web and apps by becoming the HTML5 game platform that users everywhere would use to socialize with each other.
A post-app future also coincides with the vision of Blackstorm Labs. This Silicon Valley-based company developed the popular game EverWing for Facebook Instant Games, which is Facebook's initiative to keep its users within its services. Consequently, it has become an endorsement of the HTML5 as a platform for games. Blackstorm seeks to ride this trend and produce more embedded contents.
"Rakuten's significant web presence and dedicated users make it perfectly positioned to leverage our technology to enter the mobile gaming market completely outside of the traditional app store approach," said Michael Carter, CEO of Blackstorm Labs Inc.
Ernestine Fu, co-founder of Blackstorm Labs and independent board director of Rakuten Games added that Rakuten Games has the potential to "disrupt the industry."