GamesBeat

Why the web will be a global gaming platform

Ron Piovesan is the global lead for content acquisition for Mozilla.

One meme that will happily be put to rest is if HTML5 can handle gaming.

The answer is a resounding “Yes”! Whether on desktop or mobile, HTML5 is now at a stage where it can support the most challenging game experiences.

Gamers are a notoriously demanding bunch. And that’s understandable. You don’t want any hiccups or stutter in gameplay when you’ve got compounds to storm, races to win, balloons to pop, and ropes to cut.

The latest proof that stuff’s getting real now is that developer Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 game engine has been ported to the web. This means it will be almost impossible to tell the difference between a native code game and a web game running on the browser. The same 3D graphics and immersive experience hard core gamers are used to can now be handily served up via a browser.

Browsers are getting better, too. The new OdinMonkey JavaScript engine shipping on upcoming versions of Firefox and has a performance boost of about 1,000 percent (yes, that is three zeros) over anything else out there. Now you’ve got JavaScript running lighting fast and providing a mind-blowing gaming experience right in the browser.

Want to see what a boost in performance can provide? Check out the future of web-based 3D gaming on the totally awesome (but goofily named … it wasn’t my idea) BannanaBread demo, an incredible 3D first-person shooter running on nothing but web technologies. And if you’re not into playing games by yourself, you can now have immersive multi-player action served up over the web via WebRTC.

But never mind the technology — let’s talk game experience. As EA’s Rich Hilleman points out in the video below, games are about magic and pushing the limits of imagination. One potential the web offers is the possibility of a single, contiguous gaming experience that carries with you wherever you go.

In a multidevice, multiplatform world, the consumer won’t accept playing their game in only one environment. As they move about their day, they’ll want to access their game, at the right state, on the device they have handy. The ubiquity of the web provides for that.

Also, by extending games to different devices and different form factors, the web helps open up gaming to the casual user, who is a great new customer for the gaming industry.

How else can the web help the gaming industry?

  • Massive reach: It isn’t called the World Wide Web for nothing!
  • Marketing and discoverability: Developers aren’t restricted to marketing a game in the confines of an app store. The expanse of the web and all of its inherent linkability and shareability are available so developers can reach new customers.
  • Payments: People have been doing payments on the web for years. With the web, developers have the flexibility to charge what they want, and use the payment processer they want.
  • Easy updates: The game is on your server. Developers can update when they want without having to bother with store approval processes.
  • Easy analytics: Again, the game is on your server so you don’t have to wait for analytic reports from an app store, you get all the analytic information you need, in real time.
  • Customer relationship: Distributing a game on the web means the developer has a direct relationship with the customer. Game developers don’t need to go through an app store or any other third party to manage payments or updates. You have a direct line to the customer. No one is in the middle.

But ultimately, as Chris Ye of Uken Games says in the below video, gaming is about spreading happiness. If a developer is getting the performance they need from the web (and we think they will), then HTML5 lets them spread happiness across multiple platforms without the unhappiness of needing to maintain and upgrade multiple code bases for multiple devices.

The web still has some work to do to live up to its full potential as the ultimate global game platform, but it is getting there. And realizing the benefits the web provides, the industry participation in building out a game ecosystem is closely tracking the improvements in web game performance. That’s a trend we’ll see across the game market.

Image source: Epic Games

Ron Piovesan MozillaRon Piovesan leads business development for the Firefox Marketplace and is responsible for signing distribution deals with major content and games providers. His team has closed over 200 distribution deals and helped lead Mozilla’s first strategic equity investment. He also leads the content acquisition strategy for the new FirefoxOS phone in Brazil, in partnership with Telefonica. Prior to Mozilla, he was a marketing director with DataDirect Networks. Piovesan spent over seven years at Cisco. Piovesan lectures on marketing and social media strategies at Stanford University. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Carleton University in Canada; a master’s degree in media and communications from Goldsmiths College, U.K.; and an MBA from the joint program at the Columbia and UC Berkeley Haas GSB.


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