Making multi-player games an (almost) open-source experience

Come2Play has a great idea for how to build games online, but it doesn't quite go far enough.

Video games have long struck me as a perfect platform for open-source development. Unfortunately, many gamers agreed, and the courts are littered with copyright lawsuits over the years when developers tried to extend their favorite games.

Now Come2Play has made building and extending games and open-source affair: safe, legal, and fun. No, Come2Play won't let developers hack the games of Electronic Arts, Activision, etc. But it will allow them to create fun multi-player games and easily distribute them on Facebook and across the web, as TechCrunch reports:

Released under the GNU Lesser General Public License, the [Come2Play] API currently supports two players and will be gradually ratcheted-up to include a theoretically unlimited number of players. Developers will be able to create multiplayer games using ActionScript 2/3 which they should feel more comfortable with than server side scripting languages such as .NET, Java, and PHP....

[The Come2Play platform is useful because:] First, game developers can focus on developing games, rather than developing and maintaining infrastructure. Second, they get to keep all in-game ad revenue. Third, the developers get instant game distribution through Come2Play's publisher network. Plus, all games can be automatically ported to Facebook and OpenSocial apps.

This is pretty cool, and perhaps stands a greater (short-term) chance of succeeding than enterprise software-focused "Platform as a Service" plays, because individual game developers may be more willing to build on others' platforms, given the experience with Facebook and other web applications.

But what is it missing? True open-source licensing that would enable games on its platform to be modified by unrelated third parties. Right now, Come2Play is only an open-source API that allows developers to work with its platform, but says nothing about developers being able to modify others' games. To me, that is the missing ingredient. Add that and Come2Play's platform may prove to be the ideal way to build, extend, and play games online.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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