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Angry Birds flutters over to Chrome

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Google is bringing Rovio‘s Angry Birds, a popular game on mobile devices where players fling birds at structures to try to destroy pigs, to its Chrome web browser to showcase how fast the browser has grown over time. The search giant made the announcement today at its Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

Chrome’s graphics rendering speed is more than ten times faster than it was just a few years ago. It wouldn’t have been possible to render Angry Birds in a web browser a year ago, said Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Chrome.

Browser-based gaming is becoming increasingly popular thanks to companies like game maker Zynga and its flagship Farmville and Cityville games. They give gamers a way to access their games from almost any device and don’t require a powerful computer or device to run the games. And as browsers have become faster, game developers have even more incentive to build better games for the web and port existing games over to web browsers like Chrome.

Angry Birds is rendered with either WebGL or Canvas 2D, both internal rendering features that speed up the graphics and make the game look great. If the browser supports hardware acceleration, users can play the game in high-definition — like the experience on tablets and other mobile devices. It was a pretty smooth experience porting the game over from mobile devices to the web, which mainly uses Java.

From the presentation on stage, the game looks just about identical to versions that appear on mobile devices like the iPhone and phones running Google’s Android mobile operating system. It slowed down a little bit once or twice when the birds collided with the environment, but for the most part it looked like it runs at the same frame rate as other mobile devices.

Chrome users can also play the complete game offline because it’s stored in the browser’s cache. Rovio’s Peter Vesterbacka didn’t say how long it would stay in the cache — so users might have to re-run the game when they restart the browser. Chrome users also get exclusive levels that are only available for the browser version of the game, called the “chrome dimension.” It includes many aesthetic features from the Chrome web browser. “It’s very Chrome,” Vesterbacka said.

“When you run out of battery on your Android device, you can continue on your Chrome netbook,” Vesterbacka said. “And it goes on and on. We think Chrome is a great environment for Angry Birds.”


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