Blog Post

As mobile games boom, opportunities abound

With mobile games booming beyond iOS (s aapl), the challenge for developers is to get their creations up and running on multiple platforms quickly. That’s opening up a new set of opportunities for a host of enablers, who are looking to help developers speed their mobile game deployments. Seattle-based Zipline Games is taking on the challenge with a two-sided platform approach, providing an SDK for game development on iOS and Android (s goog) in the Lua scripting language as well as a back-end cloud infrastructure for hosting games.

Zipline’s Moai game development platform is now in open beta, and the company has announced that it is signing up some noteworthy partners, including Harebrained Schemes, which is building Crimson, the first title to be released by Bungie Studios’ new mobile game program called Bungie Aerospace. Nay Games, which created the physics game breakout hit Bubble Ball, has also signed on. More than 700 developers have requested access to the Moai beta since it first launched in April.

Moai will face plenty of competing tools from Unity, Epic Games, Sibblingz, Ngmoco and others that are helping to make mobile game development easier. Moai is focusing on professional 2-D games, and it is banking on the power of Lua to help it win over developers. The language is increasingly popular, and when combined with Moai’s SDK, which is written in C++, it can result in very high performance games that play like natively coded titles, said Todd Hooper, the CEO of Zipline Games.

The Moai back end, which also utilizes Lua, will be just as important. While developers are focused on building games, many aren’t equipped to scale their titles as demand builds. This becomes even more important as game developers shift from building largely finished titles to games as a service that need to be constantly updated. By providing back-end services, Zipline is hoping to become something like the Heroku for game developers.

That’s where Moai hopes to make its money. There’s a growing opportunity in being a back-end cloud provider for mobile apps, something others like Stackmob and the new Techstars graduate Kinvey are looking to exploit. By focusing on mobile games, Moai has a big part of the market to tap. Mobile apps are expected to hit $37 billion in revenue by 2015, with mobile games leading the way. Games are the largest category of mobile apps in the U.S. and show no signs of letting up. And with more providers like Zipline entering the fray, mobile gaming is just going to get hotter.