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Gree wants to sidestep App Store with HTML5 push

Gree wants to sidestep App Store with HTML5 push

November 14, 2012 | By Kris Graft

As other companies hold off on their investments in HTML5 game development, one of the leading mobile game companies is expanding its efforts within the web technology.

Gree, a Tokyo-based leader in mobile games, said Wednesday it will add support for HTML5 games to its 200 million-user-strong Gree social platform, allowing customers to play games entirely within a web browser.

The move is an attempt to unify a fractured mobile market by giving Gree and its developers the option to distribute games as web apps, and circumvent proprietary storefronts like Apple's App Store or Google Play on Android, which take 30 percent of sales. The Gree Platform will also continue to support native apps.

Gree said it wants to give developers more options for distribution. "By expanding the compatibility of Gree Platform, developers will be able to choose the development method that best suits their technical capabilities and the characteristics of each game, providing them with a cost-effective means of distributing games worldwide," the company said in a statement.

The promise of HTML5 is true cross-platform development -- create a game that works in a web browser, and you have access to an incredible amount of screens and customers. Whoever figures out how to best leverage HTML5 in the game industry stands a chance of disrupting the entire mobile game market.

But while HTML5 has its proponents, there are some who say the technology -- which still is in the process of standardization -- is not quite ready for certain games that require higher levels of technical performance. Notably, top German social game developer Wooga this year dropped HTML5 development this year, and is taking a wait-and-see approach.

As for Gree, the company also said it would introduce a web browser that will work with its Gree social networking service, which connects about 200 million Gree game players worldwide. A beta for the HTML5 functionality begins later this month.

The company said it will support its HTML5 initiative with internally-developed social games and web apps. New payment methods will also be introduced, including PayPal, major credit cards and payment via mobile carriers.

Gree also today announced a 25 percent year-on-year increase in sales to 37.9 billion ($472 million) for its first quarter ended September 30. Operating profits were down 5 percent to 15.7 billion ($196 million) for the quarter.

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