Goko reverses course and ditches HTML 5; Settlers of Catan and Dominion coming to iOS

Or pit, if you prefer.

Lazarus project.

Words I never expected to write: Goko is back, and their new proposition might be worth a look. 2012′s bête noire has shed its HTML 5 shackles and now plans to deliver native iOS apps for Dominion and Settlers of Catan under the leadership of new CEO Kate Connally.

The rise and fall of Goko, a web-based free-to-play HTML 5 platform for playing boardgames, spanned all of a couple of weeks last year. The service launched in August with a PR-fuelled overture declaring that gaming had changed forever. With legendary deck-building card game Dominion as its lead offering, Goko promised that its HTML 5 platform would let you play anywhere (with an internet connection, anyway) against anyone on any device.

Goko’s debut only needed 48 hours to go from triumphant launch to Poseidon Adventure. Goko was unreachable for most of the time it was online, and those who did manage to connect found an janky, inconsistent user experience and a mercenary freemium pricing scheme. Goko’s previously gregarious executives clamped down and didn’t say another word in public for months. The hundreds of exclusive contracts they’d signed meant that many of the board gaming world’s favourite properties were tied up to a wagon that wasn’t going anywhere.

Not long after I named Goko 2012′s Disappointment of the Year, Jim Squires over at Gamezebo (a very smart chap) declared that the service had quietly improved since its release and it was now possible to have an entertaining match of Dominion with it — even on an iPad. I made a note to check it out again, but never did.

Now, Goko is starting over: new CEO, new philosophy, the whole bit. And very much to their credit, they’re coming at last year’s debacle head-on. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I was one of Goko’s harshest critics, and they’ve offered me a chance to sit down and talk with new jefe Kate Connally (who used to work for Shockwave and ran the show at AddictingGames for a couple of years) next week.

I can’t wait to hear what she’s got to say.