We’re proud to announce the newest OCV public benefit company, Ramatak. Built with the open source gaming engine Godot by Godot’s co-founder Ariel Manzur and project maintainer HP van Braam, Ramatak is a platform for mobile gaming. The co-founders’ vision is to create a fully compatible version of the Godot engine that makes the process of building and monetizing a mobile game as smooth as possible.
Games have become a primary form of entertainment and a forum for socialization. More people are starting to use gaming platforms like social media and are turning to mobile gaming over other platforms due to its accessibility. “Games are becoming a place for social interactions,” said Sid Sijbrandij, OCV General Partner. “We think it’s important that the technology that builds them is open source.” As cyberspace evolves into a persistent virtual reality, or “the metaverse,” people must have access to the infrastructure required to participate in its creation. Interoperability is a key that an open source platform is most equipped to deliver. Godot is already powering the metaverse: Anitya, The Mirror, and Realm are all built using Godot.
As an open core company, Ramatak’s relationship with the core Godot project will be bi-directional. “All improvements to make the game run better on things like Android and iOS (core stuff) will be open source immediately,” said HP. “What will not be open source, and may never be, are the actual integrations with existing app companies, Apple Arcade, Google Play, etc.” The decision for what is open source and what is proprietary follows the buyer-based open core framework, which places features into tiers based on the most likely user. Ramatak’s criteria: does this help someone build a game, or does this help someone sell a game?
“It’s important to understand that we are not trying to trap people’s projects in our fork of Godot, said HP. “With open core, there’s often an association that there is an open source version that is almost useful but not quite. You end up paying for the better version and can never go back to the open source version.” Project portability is a high engineering priority, says HP. The plan for Ramatak is to achieve no-fuss portability and near-zero exit cost for users.
“We’re going to spend money and engineering effort to make it so that you can move your project into and out of our version without losing non-specific functionality,” said HP. “If you want to migrate away from our version of Godot, you’ll be able to load an add-on, and our functionality will disappear, and you can continue using the fully open source version. You will lose the integration with the ad tech, but you will not lose your game.”
Today, the game engine industry is highly concentrated in just a handful platforms. “Concentrated markets generally lead to high prices and reduced speed of innovation,” said Betty Ma, COO at OCV. “The launch of Ramatak provides additional funding and resources for Godot development and expands the availability of high-performing engine platforms for game developers.”
Co-founder and Ramatak CTO Ariel Manzur started building gaming software in 2001 when using a third-party engine wasn’t common. “Unity did not exist. There was no general purpose engine then,” said Ariel. After years of working in the industry, he and Juan Linietsky, CEO of W4, created the Godot game engine and released it as open source. “There wasn’t an open source game engine, so we said, ‘Let’s make one,’” said Ariel.
Today, Godot is considered one of the world’s top open source projects. It recently graduated from the Software Freedom Conservancy, launched a new foundation, and has been used by many high-profile games, including Sonic Colors: Ultimate, which Ariel worked on.
HP started working with Godot as a maintainer, and after a few years of doing technical maintenance, he was asked to join the leadership board. “I consider myself a plumber versus a designer,” said HP. “There are no parts of the engine that I wrote and own, but I have edited almost every part of the engine.” The project has received enormous support from users, contributors, and commercial endeavors over the years.
“There’s always been commercial companies run by the contributors of Godot,” said Ariel. Both Ariel and HP have owned Godot-based businesses previous to Ramatak. Ariel started Lonewolf Technology in 2013, and HP started his company, Prehensile Tales, in 2017. “The difference now is that we can do things we couldn’t do without investment,” said HP.
And not just any investment will do, says HP. “I’ve talked to VC funds in the past, and the way they wanted to structure the company immediately didn’t align with my moral values even slightly. Those talks ended quickly. OCV seems to understand the ethos behind open source software and how to make money ethically.”
Ramatak carries the OCV public benefit company charter (OPBC). The charter prevents the company from baiting and switching users. The charter requirements range from agreeing to make the majority of new features and all security testing frameworks open source to never removing open source code. There are legal consequences for failing to meet these requirements.
“The fact that the OPBC was proposed by OCV gave me a huge amount of confidence that I would not be starting a company I wouldn’t work for,” said HP. “OCV makes that possible.”