Powering-up Pixi with Playco

Mat Groves
Sep 28 · 4 min read

Many of you will have already read the news that was shared earlier today. For those of you who aren’t up to speed, I have a very exciting update that I can hardly wait to share. Before I do, I thought it worth doing a bit of a retrospective to provide context and take stock of the many fascinating events that have positively impacted Goodboy’s work and our developer ecosystem at-large.

Way back when, circa 2013, it was the age of Apps, Robot puppies and Furbies (3rd Gen, natch). Flash was dying, everyone was browsing on their mobile phones and HTML5 was the ‘new’ technology on the block, promising to do all the things Flash could do. It was actually true, but very few people had realised it back then, myself included.

Playing around with WebGL and Canvas in HTML, my Co-Founder, John Denton and I, wanted to see if we could make a space shooter using this tech. A few days later and we had our first game! It worked great on desktop, and then to our surprise it ran at a full 60fps on our iPhone 3Gs! This blew our minds.

It was like a secret that no-one else had discovered. This tech was fast enough to make anything we wanted! We could make games that ran in a browser on everything with better performance than anything Flash could have achieved. Game. Changer.

We believed that people still wanted to have playful, engaging experiences on the web, just as they did in the days of the desktop internet. The desire hadn’t gone away — the capability had. This became the spark that created goodboy.

The problem we had was that WebGL was super fast, but only available on a limited number of desktop browsers, whilst canvas was on everything including mobiles. So we decided to make a little rendering engine to solve this problem so we could get back to making games again. The party trick being that It would run WebGL and gracefully fall back to canvas as required. We called it PixiJS (because pixels + javascript)

In 2015, we were finding it so useful that we decided to open source it and share it with the world. We never quite expected what happened next. It exploded. Loads of developers started using it, and loads of developers started contributing. Before we knew what was going on it had its own community and with the help of some extremely talented contributors, it became a real force in the HTML5 game world.

Since its humble beginnings with John and me, Pixi has been going from strength to strength with even smarter brains joining the community and helping to improve both the rendering and the developer experience.

For those first few years I was incredibly active on the project, creating cool features, optimising WebGL and really getting stuck in. It was incredibly fun.

Then something interesting happened. As Pixi’s success began to snowball, we also began to see increased demand for Goodboy’s services — demand that ultimately saw it grow into a fine, strapping young agency. The downside of that success was that it became increasingly difficult for me to find time to work on Pixi, my passion project. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super proud of the work we did to grow Goodboy into a vibrant, growing business. But there were definitely days when I would have loved to spend more time working on what is still very much still my passion.

And now that I’ve so egregiously buried the lead, I want to finally call out the exciting news that hit the wire earlier today: Goodboy was acquired by the world’s leading HTML5 game developer, Playco! It’s an incredible development for Goodboy and for me personally. It means that many things will change quite considerably — all for the better!

There are two compelling reasons that convinced us to become part of the Playco family.

First, Playco’s massively ambitious goal is to reach BILLIONS of players. We love this. With almost all messenger gaming platforms having HTML5 as their core technology for content deployment, it makes PixiJS the perfect tool for creating games within their ecosystems. Playco have long been admirers of PixiJS and joining forces means that we will get to bring our own team of uniquely skilled PixiJS Pros into the mix to make cutting edge content with Playco.

Second, one of the key aspects of becoming part of the Playco family is the shared understanding of how amazing and important open source is for the developer community (the JS community in particular). We all stand on the shoulders of giants in this space. The core PixiJS team is smashing it, and I just can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in once more and do what I love…working on the best open source 2D HTML5 based rendering engine in the world. (hey, it’s a better hobby than golf, right?)

Needless to say, the entire Goodboy team is thrilled to be joining Playco. I’d like to offer a big thanks to those of you who have supported, collaborated or helped us get better. The next chapter promises to be a great one and getting here wouldn’t have been possible alone.

Goodboy Digital

Digital Play Production