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The social-networking aspects of gaming can be such a headache for developers. These headaches can grow into migraines — for both them and their players — when their solution of choice becomes unavailable. But a young developer has an alternative that could turn a company’s pain into a gain.
Right now, the headaches are coming from Japanese social-networking platform Gree, who after acquiring the popular OpenFeint social network service is ready to shut it down on Dec. 14. Gree offers its own service (called, surprise, Gree), but a number of developers are angry at the Japanese firm for buying and shutting down OpenFeint and asking the studios that use it to move to the Gree service. The biggest issue is that closing OpenFeint will cause errors in apps dependent on that social platform.
Oh, and Gree has only given OpenFeint customers a month to move to its service.
Enter Swarm, which is also offering its own social gaming network of achievement, leaderboards, friends lists, and other nuggets that gamers demand in today’s age of connected games — and making itself a pretty alternative for developers holding a Gree grudge.
“We don’t want anything to do with Gree anymore,” GoNinja developer George Deglin told GamesBeat at the time of the announcement. “If they gave us more time, then I think we definitely would consider moving to the Gree platform.”
But Gree didn’t give Deglin that time.
With bridges burned, Swarm is taking this opportunity to position itself as an easy-to-implement solution.
“We think it’s a great time for developers to look for alternatives [to Gree,]” said Swarm’s chief technology officer Dan Sherman. “We think we are a good contender.”
To aid in the process, Swarm chief executive officer Matt Haggerty had his team set up a migration process to assist developers moving off OpenFeint. Sherman claims the process is relatively painless for those studios.
“Swarm’s hassle-free integration process was a huge plus on our tight development schedule,” Highline Games founder, Britt Myers, said in a statement. “The features and functionality of the platform have exceeded expectations
of our players.”
Former Rockstar NY developers created Highline Studio and released fast-paced word game W.E.L.D.E.R. for Android with full social functionality by utilizing Swarm.
“We’ve had a lot developers come over [from OpenFeint] even before this transition period and they praised us for the ease of documentation — for how easy it was for them to just drop in Swarm and make very, very minimal changes to their code to get it up and running. In most cases, if they already have OpenFeint, it’s less than a day of integration.”
The feature list for Swarm is comparable to Gree’s platform.
“We currently offer on Android an achievement system, a leaderboard system, and a network save feature,” said Sherman. “We also offer a complete store integration to make monetization and running in-app purchases easier on developers.”
Popular mobile developer Vector Unit — which produced the hit game Riptide GP — used Swarm in its recent release, Beach Buggy Blitz on Android.
I gave the game a try, and from an end-user perspective. the Swarm implementation was fast and inoffensive. I created an account in less than a minute and was back into the game with full leaderboard and achievement support.
“We are rapidly expanding to multiple platforms,” said Sherman. “We currently offer all of this on Android as well as on Unity. We are actively expanding to iOS.”
Swarm is growing. According to its own metrics, every month, users signup for Swarm at a faster rate than the previous month. It’s already in the multiple of millions of users, and the product is only in its first year.