PlayCanvas – a game changer for the gaming industry

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With over 30 years’ worth of gaming industry experience between them, Will Eastcott and Dave Evans put their entrepreneurial passions together back in 2011 with one objective: “to solve the problems of video game development”. From this, they created PlayCanvas, the world’s first cloud-hosted game development platform. It’s free, it’s open source, it’s collaborative and it’s taking the gaming industry by storm.

Follow Innovation took the opportunity to sit down with Will, CEO and Co-Founder, to understand a little more about the PlayCanvas journey so far.

“I was Technical Director for European Studios at Activision when I had the idea for PlayCanvas. I was faced with the difficult decision as to whether to take the leap, however I was convinced it was the right thing to do… Dave and I discussed the viability of the business and when we had done that we started prototyping and became bedroom coders for 18 months, madly writing code everyday”.

Their drive and vision led them from bedroom coding to be selected as one of 10 companies from 1500 onto the Techstars accelerator programme which Will quotes as being “fantastic validation for what we were doing”. Throughout the programme they were given a whole host of support and feedback from mentors. However, the key theme was to release their product as soon as possible. Despite their trepidation they switched to open beta towards the end of 2013 having completed their first iteration in mid-2013. “That was one of the best decisions; we were able to rapidly grow our community, take feedback and develop a lead over companies which could be perceived as competitors”.

Impressed yet? Well there’s more! As the first wave of customers signed up, Will and Dave were quick to notice that their audience was not dominated by independent game developers as expected, but by creative agencies looking for new innovative ways to promote their brands. From this, PlayCanvas evolved even further and began to shift their focus towards building tools which would appeal directly to these agencies.

The result? An online platform for making 3D interactive web content. “We spend 42% of our time on mobile devices; in the mobile browser, on Facebook and Twitter, WhatsApp etc. These only display image content, video content and text but they are capable of so much more. We offer a platform, on which you can not only make games, but make interactive advertising content for mobile – which is what other competitors can’t do. We’re addressing a deficiency in the market”.

Development teams can seamlessly collaborate, gamers can play engaging 3D online multi-player games, with nothing to download or install and brands can produce really engaging interactive experiences that the consumer will respond really well to. “It’s a new, frictionless way for developers to reach their audiences” adds Will.

“We’ve learnt a lot on the way” says Will and as the team is now 10 strong and spanning 3 countries we asked what is next on the PlayCanvas agenda. “Our short term focus, following completion of the Microsoft Ventures accelerator programme in London, is meeting with investors… In 2 years’ time we see PlayCanvas powering the games and ads of every major brand across social media and the web. PlayCanvas would be a replacement for Flash technology which hasn’t worked so well on mobile and is blocked on iOS. Therefore content creators are turning to HTML5 technology and we are the platform who make that content creation easy”.

Wither over 40,000 developers signed up and accolades such as winner of the best European Startup at Startup AddVenture 2013 and shortlisted for the Technical Innovation Award at Develop Awards 2014 to their name, PlayCanvas has indeed ‘solved the problems’ of gaming and then some!

Go experience PlayCanvas for yourself: playcanvas.com