Facebook hires team behind cross-platform mobile game framework Spaceport

Facebook has hired the team behind Spaceport, a framework for developers to publish their games across platforms, a company spokesperson tells us. Spaceport also announced the news today on its website.

Spaceport, which is part of Sibblingz, allows developers to create cross-platform games using a single codebase and without Adobe Air, which is known to be slow and unreliable. Instead, Spaceport uses ActionScript. It launched in April 2011.

Sibblingz co-founder Ben Savage and the Spaceport team will join Facebook in the acqui-hire deal. According to LinkedIn, that’s about seven people, but Facebook did not confirm how many new employees it is getting through the talent acquisition. As the social network is not acquiring the company’s technology, the Spaceport platform will continue under co-founder Peter Relan and his team from YouWeb.

As a vertical platform, Facebook is falling out of favor with developers who are increasingly building games for iOS and Android rather than Facebook.com. Although in many cases mobile games integrate the social network’s login or sharing features, it does not take a direct cut of revenue from native mobile games as it does on its web platform. The company advocated for HTML5 over native development in part because it would have more flexibility in implementing its own payments system, for instance. But HTML5 performance didn’t compare with native apps, as both game developers and Facebook soon realized. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has since said that its focus on HTML5 was possibly the company’s biggest mistake to date.

Facebook has overhauled its own mobile apps to take advantage of native development for Android and iOS. It has also improved its mobile platform, with the Facebook SDK for Android in version 3.0 and the SDK for iOS most recently updated last week to version 3.5.

Of the move to Facebook, Savage wrote:

“After looking at Facebook’s mission of building best-in-class mobile experiences, as well as much internal discussion with my co-founder and mentor and YouWeb Incubator founder Peter Relan, our team saw a huge potential in working more closely with Facebook. With that said, today we’re announcing that the Spaceport.io team will move as a team to Facebook to make an even larger impact on the mobile world.”