Game Lab, From Bocoup and Atlas, Looks to Fund Open Web Game Developers

Big video games studios are a bit old school, with everything from game design, production, execution, and financing done in house, says Boaz Sender, a JavaScript programmer at the Boston-based Web consulting firm Bocoup. But they’re about to go the way that the old Hollywood movie studios did, he says, by outsourcing many of the operations they once tightly controlled.

Sender says that’s all going to happen as a result of traditional video games moving to the open Web, which is a set of standardized, royalty free, HTTP- and HTML-based technologies for building network software. The software design principles and content policies behind it focus on consumer empowerment and third-party integration, he says.

“When you move to the Web, one thing that becomes a lot cheaper is distribution,” says Sender. This enables younger, scrappier startups to get involved in building games, and encourages other startups to sprout up that are developing related games software, for functions like game authoring, payment, advertising, and managing player identities.

Bocoup is looking to seed this trend via Game Lab, a small games incubator it’s running with Cambridge-based Atlas Venture with the “goal of funding companies that help the games industry move to the open Web.” It’s particularly focused on HTML5, the emerging new standard for programming Web pages and services.

Bocoup’s 15-person team has spent two years helping companies develop and adopt open Web technologies, through events, evangelism, and consulting for customers like Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla. Sender founded the firm, which consists of a group of (“especially elite,” according to Atlas) JavaScript programmers. They work closely with other Web design-focused consultancies.

Game Lab’s funding model varies from startup to startup, but it could potentially invest in seed rounds for existing companies, help new companies form and seed those, and participate in Series A rounds, says Sender. Atlas is supplying the capital and Bocoup is bringing its expertise in open Web technology to the teams. Entrepreneurs in the Game Lab also get close mentoring from Atlas, and the option of working out of Bocoup’s open source hacker space.

“It’s about how we’re going to fund the building blocks of the open Web games industry,” says Sender. Bocoup is also working with its … Next Page »

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