Game Closure launches mobile development suite for free, makes it open source

Two years after  it was founded, Game Closure has finally released its mobile game development suite, the Game Closure DevKit (GCDK), today. The technology in the suite is designed to let web developers build high-quality native titles for iOS and Android, and it’s being released for the low, low price of absolutely free.

Until now, Game Closure’s been relatively quiet about what it’s been working on. The company was founded in 2011 by CEO Michael Carter, CTO Martin Hunt and VP of Engineering Tom Fairfield. The company then  raised $12 million in a round of series A funding back in February 2012 (after reportedly turning down a $100 million acquisition offer from Zynga). In May 2012 we noted Zynga’s former CTO of Mobile  Laurent Desgur had been brought onto the Game Closure team, though he’s since left the company.

It turns out the technology suite’s been in private beta for two years, having been worked on by a team of more than 20 engineers and industry veterans Wei Deng, Marcus Cavanaugh and Scott Thomas. Now that it’s being released to the public, the GCDK is going to open sourced so anyone who uses it can contribute features and bug fixes, aside from selling mobile games on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. This may sound like one of those “too good to be true” scenarios, but Game Closure assures us it just wants to get the GCDK out to as many developers as possible and won’t make any money off the commercial games created with this technology.

Game Closure describes its development suite as “the deus ex machina of the indy / bootstrapped game start up,” saying in its release the kit will allow developers to create mobile titles that run on “every platform that matters.” The GCDK is also designed for web developers focused on HTML5 and Javascript web applications. As you can see in the GCDK trailer, combining Javascript with HTML5 results in some fast-paced titles across a variety of platforms, complete with fluid animation (something HTML5 is notorious for not being able to consistently deliver).

This fluid animation comes from Game Closure mapping an HTML5 development process onto its native game engine. As a result, Game Closure says it’s been able to have 4,000 to 8,000 sprites appear on an iPhone 5’s screen while running between 30 and 60 frames per second. Game Closure says the toolset also has a robust plugin system, allowing users to integrate third-party SDKs. We’re told games made with the engine have regularly used the SDKs from companies like Flurry, Tapjoy and Apsalar.

The game engine, we’re told, is an amalgamation of “the best of each toolset and integrating them into a single product.” As a result, native iOS and Android technology —including C/C++/Java/Objective-C and GPU shaders, Push Notifications, and GPS— are what the engine is centered around. The focus on Javascript and HTML5 is because of their mature development environments, based on how tech companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are constantly pouring money into developing toolsets with these technologies  However, GCDK is also designed for developers familiar with illustration/UI programs like Flash and Illustrator.

The free/open source nature of GCDK will likely earn it a lot of adoption among social, mobile and web developers. Bigger studios have used technology from groups like Adobe and Epic Games to create cross-platform high quality titles, but sometimes they’re out of smaller studios’ price ranges. Over the past few years, development engines like Unity and GameMaker: Studio have gained adopters because of their piecemeal pricing models, making it feasible for devs to focus on one platform and then later expand onto others with minimal price and effort.

Game Closure is keeping quiet about what developers have already adopted GCDK to create games, but there are a couple of examples of titles made with the technology at the time of this announcement. Blob Blast was actually made by a 15-year-old intern at Game Closure, while Kiwi Run was developed by Ice Popbeat.

Although the Game Closure Development Kit is going to be available to everyone for free, Game Closure tells us it plans to make money by releasing paid products in the future. While we haven’t been told exactly what those products will include, Game Closure tells us, “there’s a ton of room to grow up the stack, including user acquisition and analytics, but for now we just want to focus on getting as many people as we can.”