New YouWeb Company iSwifter Will Stream Flash Games Onto the iPhone

CrowdStar chairman Peter Relan’s incubator, YouWeb, is looking for the magic formula in mobile gaming. Its latest attempt to find that formula is called iSwifter, a company that bears a lot of resemblance to the streaming game services Gaikai and OnLive.

YouWeb’s most recently launched company before iSwifter is Sibblingz, which wants to do cross-platform development between web and mobile games. ISwifter aims shortcut that process by streaming Flash games from the web. Essentially, it will stream an interactive video of the game to the user.

Core gamers have spent a great deal of time discussing the practicality of game streaming, and whether it’s possible for a service like OnLive to reliably stream a high-definition action game over broadband. In one sense, the streaming puzzle is even tougher for iSwifter, which will have to work with notoriously unreliable mobile data connections.

But Relan says that the nature of mobile games will make iSwifter’s idea less challenging. “I think when we change the focus of the market, the product changes,” he tells us. “Flash by nature is a lot more compact and a lot less demanding [than in core games], as well as the end user. We’re talking about low investment, short bursty sessions of gameplay, with lower expectations.”

Smartphone users are already learning to deal with always-connected games, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume that they may also be willing to deal with a stuttering streamed game — assuming the average user would even know the difference.

As for why iSwifter seems like a good idea, Relan and the company’s founder, Rajat Gupta, point to the web-based flash game community, which they say is moving far too slowly toward mobile platforms. Is their solution, then, content partnerships? No, not exactly.

The odd, and somewhat amusing, truth about iSwifter is that the company plans to stream most of its content without first asking the publishers for permission. Gupta thinks that’s fine, since users will see any ads, and use any in-game monetization, just as if they were playing a non-streamed version.

“I think the beauty of the technology and the gaming service is that there’s no work to be done at the developer’s end, there’s no work to be done by the distributor, meaning we can pretty much go to any gaming portal and bring it as-is to the iDevice,” says Gupta.

To start, iSwifter’s iPhone app will offer content from AOL Games, Facebook, Kongregate, Yahoo Games and, of course, CrowdStar. It will also use the existing ratings and rankings on those sites to initially surface good content for users, with their feedback modifying what floats to the top over time.

In the end, success for iSwifter will probably hinge not on its streaming element or plan for acquiring content, but on smartphone user reactions to web-based content.

As Relan admits, social games ported to mobile devices haven’t done terribly well. Mobile users may prefer sticking to the App Store over playing a free Yahoo game. But until iSwifter tries, nobody will know for sure. For more on how iSwifter works, we’ve embedded their video below.

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3 Responses to “New YouWeb Company iSwifter Will Stream Flash Games Onto the iPhone”

  1. RevlryDotCom says:

    There’s really no need for this type of service now that Apple’s app store policies have been loosened to allow apps created with Adobe’s iOS Packager.

    While developers are converting their keyboard/mouse games to the mobile format, they will be packaging and distributing them via the app store, a far more efficient method than streaming them from websites. Games downloaded from the app store do not require an active connection and will suffer no input lag.

    There is also far more upside for developers who publish their own games via the app store (even if they’re ad supported and free), because they receive the revenue directly instead of sending it all to a web publisher.

  2. Rohan Relan says:

    @Revlry, I read your comment. I agree that some games should absolutely start with a rewrite or use Adobe CS5 code conversion to take advantage of the App Store benefits you mentioned.
    However, many many Flash developers don’t have the resources to do that. Using game streaming, those developers can instantly bring their games to iOS and seamlessly get access to other mobile platforms as we roll out support.
    We’re also allowing developers to package their games as downloadable App Store apps using our service so they can capture the upside (see Zoo Paradise on the iPhone).
    Stay tuned for our next generation streaming tech coming out soon – I think it’ll blur the line between streaming and native Flash app performance!

    -Rohan, iSwifter Co-founder

  3. wowflashgames says:

    Rohan,

    you created a great app that will help many game developers. Just because Apple’s app store has loosened their policies does not mean it will be easy for a new aspiring game developer to get their product on the app store. You are giving more developers a chance to get their product out. Why should there be more reliance on Apple to decide what games should be published? Rohan, your product helps level the playing field. Good work!

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