The history of online browser-based games is long and studious, but the future of HTML5 games is worth pondering. In this article, we’ll review some key features of HTML5 games that may prove the technology to be sustainable for the long-run.
HTML5 is a top-choice for web and mobile app development, having surpassed Flash a long time ago. HTML5 isn’t just for formatting and stylizing websites, it has a variety of key features that make it perfect for web and mobile development.
Remotely updating HTML5-based mobile apps
In a native or hybrid mobile app, you need to push updates to each platform version, which requires users to download the latest app update. With an HTML5-based app, however, your updates are performed on the remote server that your users access, and therefore they access the latest version as soon as they load the app.
Supports hooking into mobile device features
HTML5 can be used within an app to interact with the user’s GPS, camera, and other device functions (with app permissions, of course).
If you’re designing a native app for multiple devices, you need to build each version differently. You would need the Android SDK and the iOS SDK to develop native apps for both platforms, basically, and that’s just a bit of a headache to learn two separate SDKs for two separate platforms, just to create the same app. But with HTML5 you can build hybrid apps that basically run inside a native browser (wrapped, of course), and so its pretty much a “one code for all platforms” language.
Rich media support
One of the (many) reasons Flash has become less popular is that HTML5 does what Flash did, better. Previously, you needed to install Flash to watch videos in a browser. Not only that, but you needed to install it separately for each browser you used. This meant having a Flash plug-in for Chrome, Firefox, IE, etc, all separately installed if you used multiple browsers. But HTML5 can display the most popular web-video formats, and when Youtube started offering videos in HTML5, all bets were off.
This list could go on forever about the features of HTML5, but it isn’t the point of this article. I just wanted to give you an idea of why HTML5 is currently so attractive for web and mobile developers.
So how does this relate to games? Well, HTML5 can be used to develop games – simple games, but games nonetheless. But the simplest games can often be the most addictive – stickman games are highly sought after, for example. It’s really quite easy to recreate something like Pong in HTML5, since all you’re doing is creating animated shapes that interact with each other. HTML5 is fairly perfect for this sort of endeavor.
What gives this longevity is how much weight is behind the advancement of HTML5. Adobe ruled the web for long time with Flash, but it had many drawbacks. As the web advanced, Flash grew increasingly outdated. So much, that Google announced it would stop supporting Flash-based ads in the Chrome browser. Chrome is the most popular web browser, so if the most popular web browser stops supporting your software, you can bet that most web-devs are going to latch onto an alternative. Adobe realized this and announced that they would kill off Flash by 2020.
Now when you consider that Google has been lending a lot of its weight behind HTML5, even releasing HTML5 dev tools, and the ever-increasingly compatibility of HTML5 with numerous browser plug-ins, its not hard to see that HTML5 isn’t going anywhere. We’re not going to see a new player on the block for years to come.
Consider that browser vendors follow the WhatWG process for developing the HTML standard. The four major browser vendors (Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, and Apple) all participate in the WhatWG spec – meaning that the continued development of HTML and future versions is pretty much a round-table discussion of the top browser vendors (and other participants, of course).
There are no competitors to HTML – there are alternatives, such as GRML, Silverlight, and Flex, but nothing on the horizon poses a threat to the existence of HTML. That is why HTML5 (and its future successors) are here to stay. There is absolutely nothing looming on the horizon that could pose any kind of existential threat to HTML5.
And so, based on those factors, HTML5-based games are here to stay. We’re going to see a massive increase in browser-based rendering capabilities – AAA level game graphics are already possible in web browsers, its bandwidth that’s throttling the majority of consumers (nobody wants to play a 30GB game in a web browser on a 25Mbps connection).