Bigpoint to unveil platform for MMO games on Mac, iPhone

Perhaps you’ve seen that recent Microsoft demo where a game could save and load progress from Xbox 360, Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 Series devices. My first thought upon seeing that was “So, why doesn’t Microsoft have something that can do that on Xbox and PC right now?” My second thought was “Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if there was something like that for the iPhone and Mac OS X?” It turns out that I wasn’t alone.

Bigpoint, a developer based in Hamburg, Germany, and known for its browser-based massively multiplayer online games across the Atlantic, has yet to make much of a dent in the States. More importantly, Bigpoint’s games have yet to cross over into iPhone or Mac OS X gaming, but the developer has a plan to fix that.

At this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Bigpoint plans to demo how multiplayer games can be built for Mac OS X and iPhone. Code-named Uniter, the core of this demo runs on the Unity engine, which still has quite a bit more overhead than a game built natively for each platform with Apple’s Xcode. However, it saves the developers the extra time and effort of writing a game in OpenGL 2.1 for Mac OS X, and OpenGL ES and OpenGL ES2 for iPhone OS devices.

Bigpoint claims that this is “the first time that cross-platform gaming has been realized in this form and will provide the industry with a first look at the future of gaming.” It will allow gamers to play the same MMO game on any platform with the same character just as they left it, ideal for true ubiquity across MMO games.

“We believe the future of gaming exists in a world without borders and platform boundaries and in real-time,” said Heiko Hubertz, Bigpoint’s CEO and founder, in a press release announcing the company’s GDC plans. “Bigpoint is excited to show the industry how it will unify the gameplay experience for gamers across all the devices they use to play our games.”

“We believe that providing a ubiquitous gaming experience that adapts to mobile lifestyles is the future,” Unity CEO David Helgason said. “Bigpoint has been a true pioneer in Web games and in taking this step, they’re staying at the forefront of the industry.”

This week’s GDC will take place on what is now Bigpoint’s home turf. The company just set up a studio in San Francisco to accompany its other offices in New York, Berlin and Malta. Bigpoint’s Hubertz plans to move to San Francisco to throw his support behind what he calls “one of the most strategically important markets” for the company.

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