Studio Profile: SpawnApps
Key staff Alex Macris, Benoit Hozjan and Olivier Nemoz (co-founders)
What’s the thinking behind the way SpawnApps’ browser gaming technology works?
The idea was: ‘How can we bring the native desktop applications in-browser to offer the same accessibility than any Web app or Flash game?’ We had two main goals – the first was that we wanted to be plugin-less. There are solutions out there where you first have to install a navigator plugin, and unless you have a plugin that is really widespread, you end up with an unchanged user experience. The other goal was to avoid any porting of the native app to bring it in-browser. So we wanted companies to do that without changing the source, unlike SDK-based solutions where the codebase has to be modified to make the app Web-enabled.
How does the ‘Spawner’ work?
If you have an app that is one, two or three gigs to download before you can experience it, it’s really not accessible as it isn’t fast enough. So what we’re able to do is transfer a small piece of the application, start it up and then stream the remaining assets on demand.
As a solution, how does it compare to cloud-powered gaming?
We try to provide a user experience as close to a game cloud system as possible. But the difference is that with the cloud, a distant server executes the application and streams the video. We are executing the application on the end-user PC. There are pros and cons compared to cloud gaming, but our technology is definitely different. Cloud gaming providers have the problem of creating the infrastructure for serving games. You need to be close to them and to have a good bandwidth to get a decent user experience. We don’t have these issues. With SpawnApps, you have the exact same experience as if you had installed it the ‘old’ way [laughs].
Your technology relies on the user’s PC for processing – how do you avoid netbook users being disappointed?
Yeah [laughs], obviously we can’t make Crysis 2 run on a netbook. At the moment we don’t think this is the problem. The point is to improve accessibility. For example, we can get the full specification of the end-user PC, so we should be able to tell the user whether their system is powerful enough. But what’s interesting is that developers will at last have a feedback channel – Web analytics – for all new users. And they can say, “OK, what’s the average configuration on which my game or demo has been played?” For example, if you have The Sims and you want to know how many users are playing girls and how many are playing boys, you can see that. Or just knowing how many players have actually finished your game – this is something most developers simply don’t know today if they’re just pushing a download.