Goko quietly puts a toe back in the open beta water

By Owen Faraday 25 Sep 2012 0
I have altered the deal. I have altered the deal.

Here's something worth breaking out the laptop and wrangling with this hotel's temperamental wifi to report: Goko is back.

After a bungled launch (followed by a hasty retreat) in August, the cross-platform HTML 5-based online board game service reappeared in what the startup is calling an "open beta". Goko holds the exclusive rights to make digital versions of well-known board games like Dominion and Race for the Galaxy.

If nothing else, it looks like Goko's marketing and PR department is finally listening to its coders. Goko's earlier launch was heralded by trumpets and press releases which only turned up the dial on the schadenfreude machines when the product was revealed to be a lemon. I'm sure that the decision to pop the champagne corks was one that the people on Goko's technical side had argued against fiercely, knowing full well the limitations of the product.

This time Goko have opened the doors very quietly indeed, but they're sending execs out into the wilds of the BGG forums to engage directly with users and get feedback on the gameplay experience - another lesson learned from their tight-lipped stance during the backlash against their August debut.

They don't return any of my emails and I might have stuck with the story of their launch fiasco like a dog to a particularly meaty bone, but don't think I'm not rooting for Goko. I am. On paper, a truly platform-agnostic way to play multiplayer board games online is something every gamer would welcome with open arms. They just have to prove to us that HTML 5 can do everything they say it can - no small feat when companies with much deeper pockets and legions of talented engineers have just publicly washed their hands of the technology.

So is Goko any good this time? There are a lot of conflicting reports surfacing, but the tenor of the response seems decidedly more positive. If you've had a chance to go hands-on with it, leave us a trip report in the comments.



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