Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him a Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him at [email protected].
OpenKit, the open source spiritual successor to social gaming platform OpenFeint, has announced version 1.0 of its product, which has received over 1,000 developer sign-ups for its closed beta in two months.
OpenKit first launched last December, rising out of the ashes of OpenFeint, which was killed off by GREE that same month. That’s not much of a coincidence, as OpenKit is being built by Peter Relan, one of the co-founders of OpenFeint.
While OpenKit is still in private beta, the company will be showing off its product at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week.
So far, developers seem to be quite interested in the service, as OpenKit has logged over 1,000 sign-ups in the past 60 days. Relan says that the open ethos of the platform has led the OpenKit team to prioritize the features that developers say they want the most. When surveyed, developers indicated they wanted a cross-platform cloud service with support for the Unity game engine. Another highly-desired feature is cloud-based game saves that let players start gaming on one device and pick up on another, regardless of platform or form factor.
OpenKit is also working to pick up the pieces of OpenFeint to help developers migrate off the now defunct platform. The new service is built to withstand corporate wranglings, as its open source nature should ensure that the framework lives on even if its creator is bought or goes under. Relan is also promising not to lock in developer data.
Notable developers already on board with OpenKit include:
- Snowbolt Interactive
- Oyatsukai Games
- Total Monkery
- FORZEFIELD Studios
- Rabbx Inc.
- RedCell Studio
- Fat Red Couch
- Massive Finger
- Cerulean Games
Developers who were caught out when OpenFeint closed can receive migration help at GDC from OpenKit partner KitBoost, which is run by OpenFeint alumnus Joe Sandmeyer.
“Even today, millions of players download games that still contain the defunct OpenFeint SDK. KitBoost can help developers quickly migrate from OpenFeint,” Sandmeyer said.
Alongside Relan, the OpenKit team also consists of the developers responsible for the Joypad developer SDK, which converts an iPad into a gaming console with an iPhone as the controller.
The decisions behind OpenKit’s direction demonstrate how much the mobile gaming landscape has changed in just a few short years. When OpenFeint first launched in 2009, Android hadn’t quite taken off as a viable developer platform. According to Relan, it wasn’t until recently that Google’s mobile OS gained legitimacy in developers’ eyes.
2009 was also a pre-tablet era, as Apple had yet to launch the iPad. Relan views today’s market as a dual-device market, with many users having a mixed setup, such as an iPhone and a Nexus 7 or an Android smartphone and an iPad.
So the rise in Android and developer legitimacy and tablet adoption has created the conditions for OpenKit’s cross-platform and multi-device strategy.
Relan said he views the openness of the platform as giving it the potential to be even bigger than OpenFeint. He added that part of the motivation for building OpenKit is that he’s not exactly happy about how OpenFeint left developers in the lurch.
“I’m the cofounder of OpenFeint. I don’t feel particularly good about having 30,000 customers out there that are upset,” he admitted.
To developers worried about trusting him again, Relan says, “We’re not going to make you go through the same thing twice.”
Ultimately, Relan is asking for a lot of trust. He says his goal is for OpenKit to become “like the electricity and water for your games, in the background and invisible.”
It’s still too early to tell whether enough developers will adopt OpenKit to give the same kind of scale as municipal utilities. To its credit, it’s already convinced 1,000 partners, and its open source and open data policies should help entice plenty more.
Image credit: iStockphoto
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