Six months ago, Brass Monkey had built and released some well-developed software development kits (SDKs) for Android, iOS, and beyond that, simply put, enabled gamers to turn their mobile devices into remote controllers, with support for Flash, Unity3D, and desktop games and apps. The Brass Monkey team, CEO Chris Allen tells us, believed that bringing the functionality of a Wii controller to smart devices was something gamers could get excited about — but, at the time, they were missing one important piece. Support that would allow gamers to play on the browser. So they went about acq-hiring Emotely and its Founder and CEO Francois Laberge, bringing him on as CTO.
Laberge, through Emotely, had developed the necessary tech to convert smartphones into controllers and run games on the browser using HTML5 for both interface and communication layer (with HTTP and WebSockets), all of which brought an essential component to Brass Monkey’s existing products.
Fast forward to today, and Brass Monkey has a free app for iOS that allows you to run one of seven killer games through your browser. In other words, it really turns Chrome, Safari, and Firefox into video game consoles that work in tandem with the app on your iPhone to turn it into your controller. Really, any screen with a web browser becomes your display.
And for developers, Brass Monkey offers SDKs that enable them to create games for the browser that have features similar to Xbox, PS3, Wii, etc. using familiar tools for web games, like HTML5, Unity, and/or Flash. Of course, it may sound a bit complicated — and this is the one problem these guys are going to run up against, the “huh?” factor — but it’s really not.
You launch your app, the browser recognizes your phone, and then you get to choose from seven games, like Monkey Golf (move your phone back and forth to putt), Monkey Volleyball, there are racing games, zombie shooters, etc. The app takes you through the setup, and you can be playing in a couple of minutes with a good WiFi connection.
I’ve messed around with it a bit, and a few of the games are still pretty glitchy, but granted my graphics card isn’t exactly high caliber. If you’re having problems, close all your tabs and other applications if you have to, and the games should work smoothly. One of the games, Gnop Gnop (a 3-D Pong), even has support for multiplayer.
Brass Monkey also recently added a virtual currency model into the app with its latest release, which came out while the team was showing off their wares at CES. This allows users to purchase a whole mess of Brass Coins via in-app purchases, which they can then use to buy games on the site. The startup has also recently begun to ramp up their effort to bring on third-party developers to build games for its web console, and is offering a rev share for all in-app purchases from their games.
All in all, this is an extremely appealing concept. I’m not exactly the world’s most avid gamer, but this is something I can get addicted to, especially as I’m usually only feet away from my smartphone and a web-connected apparatus or doohickey of some kind. (I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not the only one.) Yes, it’s still a work in progress, so don’t go in with a rigid frame of mind, but this is awesome stuff. Just ask Joypad, who are onto the same idea, with more of a focus on the iPad.
Converting smartphones into controllers for browser games is an idea that has intrigued investors as well, as Brass Monkey is today announcing that it has raised $750K in seed financing from a host of angel investors, including Co-founder of Kima Ventures, Jeremie Berrebi, David Beyer, CEO of Chart.io, Founder and Managing Director of Boston Seed Capital Nicole Stata, and more. (See the full roster on AngelList.) The CEO tells me that the team has already begun raising its series A, too, and is already in talks with some big venture firms.
The Boston-based Brass Monkey was also a 2010 finalist in MassChallenge, a competition and networking organization for startups. Allen tells us that an Android app is on its way and should be ready by March.
For more, check out Brass Monkey at home here, or watch the video below. Let us know what you think.