Dominion Online makers Goko un-launch, retreat back into beta

Goko's front page mea culpa

Goko’s front page mea culpa

One of the most-anticipated strategy game launches of the year has crashed, burned, smouldered, crashed again somehow, and arranged its ashes into a rude comment about your mother.

I’m writing a bigger story about this for Monday, but the disastrous unveiling online gaming platform Goko has gone so badly that the devs have taken the remarkable step of pulling the plug entirely. Kicking out what few users managed to successfully access the service over the 48 hours that it was live, Goko have pulled all of their games, including Dominion, back behind a beta login wall and posted a contrite apology on their front page.

Instead of the usual native iOS and Android apps which have served mobile board game conversions so well, Goko was trying something bold – taking popular board and card game licenses and building them into HTML 5 web applications. The advantage being that anyone on Goko’s platform can play anyone else – Android versus PC, PC versus iOS.

But the chief downside to this was the fact that offline play would be impossible. Besides that inherent failing, beta testers who’d had an early spin of Goko’s service reported a buggy, crash-filled experience that would frustrate Sisyphus. Reports of major security flaws in the software and a piratical pricing scheme added to the skepticism.

Goko launched Thursday with a fanfare of regurgitated press releases in media ranging from Kotaku to the Wall Street Journal, announcing that the platform’s arrival had ushered in a new age of HTML 5 gaming – an Industrial Revolution that would change everything1. If yesterday was a view of the Industrial Revolution, then the Luddites won’t be having any recruiting worries anytime soon. Forums were full of reports from users who couldn’t get Goko’s service to work on any browser, mobile or otherwise, and Goko’s Twitter feed was a litany of apologies and making-lemonade-out-of-lemons jokes.

More on Monday. For now, Goko – the exclusive rights-holder to Dominion and over one hundred other beloved gaming properties like Race for the Galaxy – is back to square one.

How many of those outlets will follow up on the state of Goko’s launch?

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