Yodo1 has already made a name for itself as a publishing partner for the Chinese market. The startup, based in Beijing, offers localization and cultralization, and also help releasing smartphone games in a market that's extremely difficult to crack.
Now, the company is about to launch its first product aimed at the Western market -- one that grew naturally out of its business in Asia. A need to get around Chinese internet restrictions has born a new social games-as-a-service layer, dubbed Kryptanium, which the company is already beta testing in China with over a million players.
Yodo1's API will allow developers to add a robust social layer to their games, which offers the ability for players to post screenshots and text posts which other players can comment on or "like," Facebook-style, without leaving the game.
It will also offer a notification system that enables developer-to-player or player-to-player rewards of any of a game's virtual currencies, cross-promotion of games that use Kryptanium, and the ability for developers to create events that require users to perform actions to get rewards. Appy Entertainment is even using it to enable passive multiplayer in China -- allowing players to invite their friends' Animal Legends
characters over, which then rewards them with in-game currency.
Notably, Yodo1 will not require developers to implement any specific virtual currency system to hook into Kryptanium, which has a simple and powerful web back-end to allow developers to manage their games and users.
Nor will Kryptanium make players sign up for an account -- it hooks into their existing Facebook or Twitter accounts. However, each player will be assigned, on the back-end, a unique identifier that will allow the platform to reward players who play multiple Kryptanium-powered games.
The company's goal is to make something simple but powerful for both players and developers. "It works with your existing game -- that's the engine," says Spencer Liu, the company's chief product officer. "Our target is that the integration experience on the client side takes 24 hours or less," says CEO Henry Fong.
The Kryptanium back-end. Click for larger version.
Fong explained to Gamasutra how Kryptanium came about.
Appy used Yodo1 to bring Animal Legends
out in China -- but "the backend in the Western markets is Google App Engine. When we launched it in China, obviously Google is blocked, so we had to rewrite their entire backend," Fong says.
It was a natural leap from there to start improving it and making it into a full-on social layer -- which, in its current form, opens up when the player swipes a tab on the side of the screen.
"We work with a lot of indies, mid-sized, small-sized indies. They all have to do this, but they don't have the resources to do this in-house. We're asking them what they want to see on the platform, and we're kind of rolling out features as per their requirements," says Fong.
He says that Yodo1 got a quick step up in anticipating developer requests up because "we have their source code, and we're culturalizing the game, so we understand it."
The service is aimed at indies that don't have the resources to dive into analytics and notifications the way a large player like Zynga does. And rather than exposing analytics about the system to developers, Yodo1 will figure out what works best with Kryptanium and then roll it out to everyone.
"We're going to be optimizing it on behalf of them," says Fong. "90 percent of indie developers don't have [dedicated analytics staffers] and they'll never get to the scale to have that, in a lot of cases. [Krytanium is] not going to be completely optimized for one game, but it'll be 80 percent optimized for lots of games, and we'll continue doing that."
The service will go into closed beta in the U.S. on June 30 -- open, initially, only to developers who have partnered with Yodo1 to release their games in China. The goal, however, is to make it self-service, says Fong. While it will be free to use, Yodo1 expects to eventually make money by selling premium services.
"I'm not worried about people not adopting it; I'm worried about it getting out of hand," says Fong. "Developers will be willing to pay for premium services, potentially. We haven't decided how we're going to monetize it."
Right now the goal is to get the service into good shape for a launch outside of Yodo1's offices.
"What we're working on now is optimizing the memory footprint so that it's really light, the last thing we want to do is basically blow out the memory requirements," says Fong. "Having it as part of our internal pipeline, and having it as a hardened, external SDK are two different things, and that's what we're really working on now."