OK, I will be the first to admit that there are a few hundred HTML5 3D game engines in development, so why draw any attention to this one?
Well, there are a couple very good reasons.
First off, star power. There are pair of fairly successful people behind PlayCanvas. The CEO is Will Eastcott, former tech director at Activision, who worked on Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and Max Payne. The CTO is Dave Evans, formerly at Sony, and on the team responsible for PlayStation Home. So, the people behind the company understand real game requirements and have the experience to pull it off.
Second, it’s a full tool chain. This is perhaps the biggest single selling point, it contains a visual designer, importer for 3D Studios Max, Maya and Blender. Plus of course the libraries you need to create a game, including dynamic lighting, shadow effects, bones/skinned animations, skeletal blending, 3D spatial audio, a component entity system for scripting and more.
So basically… they are going head to head with Unity, but focused on HTML5. They have a demo section, but it is currently a bit underwhelming.
At this point, you may be wondering about cost…
During our closed beta, the PlayCanvas development environment will be free and unrestricted for all. When the closed beta ends, the vast majority of users will be able to continue to use PlayCanvas at no cost within some generous limitations. Pro accounts will be available on a subscription basis at a nominal monthly cost. These accounts will relax certain restrictions and unlock additional power-user oriented features in the interface.
Currently it is in closed beta, so you will have to contact them for more details. They are however presenting at Google IO ( which is happening right now ), so perhaps we will have more details soon.
If this sounds interesting to you, head on over to playcanvas to learn more.