The biggest barrier for good quality high-performance 3D games on Palm Smart-phones has finally been removed.
Palm (PALM) have finally officially confirmed that they have added a component to their webOS Software Development Kit which will allow developers to target high-performance 3D graphics and native ARM code. This is in the form of a webOS plugin that Palm plans to release at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week. It was first announced in January at CES.
What this means effectively is that the OpenGL ES API as well as the ability to compile C/C++ in gcc should now be available to all developers. OpenGL ES and C/C++ are the most commonly used API and language for game development on most other mobile platforms. It’s almost unbelievable that it has taken this long for Palm to do this. In my opinion this delay is one of the contributing factors to Palm’s slow decline and the lack of success they are seeing in their own App Store.
The great opportunity here for Palm (and games developers) is that any game written for OpenGL ES (1.1 or 2.0) can now be relatively easily ported to Palm’s smart phones which run webOS. i.e. The Pre and Pixi. That means the majority of iPhone, iPod and Android games catalog could be brought to their devices by developers in short turn around times. What it doesn’t mean is that any of the successful iPhone OS and Android OS UI based apps and utilities will be ay easier to port. So this doesn’t really spur popular utilities developers already seeing success with iPhones, iPods and Android devices to rush to the webOS platform; as they would still have to rework their user interface code considerably.
It’s taken Palm far too long to open this aspect of their device up to developers. It’s also frustrating to smaller game developers that the big players have had access to this since January. These small developers are now going to have to play catch up to the big names who will fill the store very quickly with their own IP, backed by strong marketing campaigns. This is somewhat dissimilar to Apple and Google, who have by and large let developers big and small work with their SDKs in parallel from the day they have been announced.
I am sceptical if this will cause a massive boost in the Pre’s popularity. But it is a step in the right direction, finally. And means that frustrated Palm gamers can look forward to some more fun with their devices.
Details for developers here
Some eye-candy on Palm’s site with games from some big partners such as EA, Gameloft and so forth, who have been working with Palm using this plugin since it’s announcement at CES in January: here
Is this too little to late for Palm? Are you a Palm user and are you excited by this? As a Developer have you been asking for this for a while, and are you frustrated that Palm have made you wait this long? I know I have, and I am.