Dominion is expanding its territory to video games. Goko today launched its eponymous HTML5 games platform with a slate of four titles, headlined by the first official adaptation of Rio Grande's hit card game.
Like all of the company's games, the Goko version of Dominion is free-to-play and allows people to play against one another on multiple devices. PC players can play today through Facebook, Google Plus, Windows Store, or Goko.com, and iOS and Android phone and tablet users will be able to download Goko apps to join in about a month from now.
As Goko CEO Ted Griggs explained to GameSpot, the free-to-play model will be driven by a combination of ads and for-pay expansion content. For example, gamers can play with the standard version of the Dominion card game for free with ads, but if they choose to buy one of the expansions, they will be able to bypass the advertising. Additionally, only one player in a match needs to own the expansion in order for everyone to play with it.
Griggs also stressed that the company is taking a different approach to free-to-play than many of its competitors. In particular, he was bothered by social games that use "energy" as a way to limit the amount of things players can do in a given time period, and charge them in order to do more things, more quickly. "If the game is fun to play, let them play it as much as they want, rather than gate them with the artificial construct," Griggs explained.
Beyond Dominion, Goko is launching with a digital adaptation of Reiner Knizia's board game Forbidden City, as well as two original titles. Goko's own War Factory is a single-player puzzle-strategy game mash-up, while All the King's Men is a real-time tower-defense game. The company is also working on Catan World, an adaptation of Settlers of Catan with a layer of massively multiplayer online-style progression surrounding the core board game action.
Goko has plenty more lined up, as the company has negotiated licensing deals for more than 150 games from companies like Rio Grande and Mayfair Games. Griggs said with their lack of reflex-based gameplay, board games and card games were especially well-suited to the cross-platform HTML5 approach. He added that outside of the Electronic Arts-Hasbro deal, the sector had been wide open for game companies to scoop up licenses as well, which allowed Goko to snatch up rights to hits like Dominion (3 million sold) and Settlers of Catan (21 million sold). At the moment, Goko has 15 titles in production, but they hope to grow quickly, and have invited external developers to make games based on their library of licenses, or create their own IP on the Goko platform.
At the moment, there is no offline mode for Goko's games, but Griggs said such a feature could be added if users demanded it.