To play the latest online games, you need HTML5. Even if you don’t know you need it, you do. This fact became obvious to Chrome gamers in May 2018 when an update caused play to stop. As part of Google’s efforts to reduce unwanted ads intruding on your browsing experience, the update changed the way Chrome handled WebAudio objects. In simple terms, the new feature automatically pauses the videos from loading when a webpage starts up. The upshot of this is that the audio is blocked, thereby improving the browsing experience.
Unfortunately, gamers got the raw end of the deal as the update also blocked the audio for certain online games. Although the fix is a relatively simple one, developers that didn’t adjust their coding to accommodate the new feature found that their games stopped working. Fortunately, normal service has since resumed, and players can once again play their favorite games via Chrome. However, what the incident has proven beyond doubt is that in today’s world, HTML5 is a pivotal cog in the online gaming machine.
Of course, it’s not just sounds that make HTML5 the go-to code for modern games. With Google slowly phasing out Flash for Chrome, HTML5 is becoming an increasingly important tool for developers and, in turn, gamers. Perhaps its most important use is the cross-platform capabilities. Because HTML5 creates dynamic interfaces, pages can be played on a variety of screen sizes. This ability to scale up and down at will means gaming operators can offer desktop and mobile games without the need for an app. One industry where this has been used in recent years is the online poker world. For 888poker, a HTML5 platform allows its 10 million+ users to play its brand of standard and SNAP poker variants via their PC or mobile.
Despite offering iOS and Android apps, the operator has an optimized mobile site that offers instant access to its selection of games such as Texas hold’em and Omaha. This sort of flexibility is something modern gamers have come to expect. Although native apps provide direct access to games, players don’t always want to go through the download process. What’s more, with Windows Mobile and Blackberry still lacking in the app department, HTML5 sites allow players with these devices to game on the go without the need for native software.
Richer, More Responsive Graphics
Another reason HTML5 is important for the online gaming world is that it doesn’t require any plugins. Unlike standard HTML and Flash sites where you were often required to install separate plugins in order to run graphically complex games, HTML5 handles everything for you. So, as with the above example, if a poker player is using their phone or their computer to play, they won’t be required to go through a range of steps just to get to the good stuff.
Additionally, thanks to WebGL, developers can draw their creations onto something known as Canvas. This dynamic allows them to create graphics that can be “hardware accelerated” by a graphics processing unit (GPU). A GPU is basically a special circuit that can reroute memory in order to accelerate the processing of images. The end result of this is that both two and three-dimensional graphics can not only be more complex and impressive to look at, but more responsive.
HTML5 Allows You to Play Offline
In recent years, HTML5 has also become a popular way to offer offline games. By creating web applications, developers can give players access to an online game directly from their desktop. In simple terms, online-offline apps are linked to a cloud and can survive periods of downtime. The app, in our case a game, links to a central cloud which updates the local app each time the player goes online. Because the app will take all the information it needs from the cloud each time it’s connected to the internet, the player can play without being online. Because HTML5 apps allow this dynamic to take place, it allows major gaming networks like Steam to offer an offline mode.
By logging into their Steam account, a player can select the games they want to play online, update the necessary files and then choose the “go offline” setting. After restarting Steam, the player can launch the browser and play without connected to the internet. Even though the player will be playing a cached version of their favorite game, the stats stored locally can be used to update their progress online. By pushing data from the cloud to a desktop and from a desktop to the cloud, players can choose to game in a way that suits them, whether that’s practicing their hands in poker or racking up Candy Crush high scores.
Blurring the Lines Between Website and Apps
The final reason HTML5 is great for gamers is because the games now look virtually identical across different devices. As the world moves towards a more mobile form of entertainment, HTML5 is bridging the gap between the two mediums. As per Newzoo’s Q1 2018 report, mobile gaming now accounts for more than 50% of the industries revenue. Thanks to a decade of double-digit growth, the report shows that mobile games now generate $70.3 billion in revenue compared to $34.6 billion from consoles and $32.9 billion from PCs.
With the market essentially demanding that developers take a mobile-first approach, using HTML5 is critical. As well as the “app” dynamic we’ve discussed, this program language is also compatible with touchscreen products. Although touch-powered PCs and laptops are still fairly niche, they’re growing in popularity thanks to smartphones and tablets. As well as allowing for touch controls, HTML5 allows developers include the “viewport” setting. This not only allows a game to adjust in size according to the size of the browsing window, it also allows for zooming. Whether the user is visiting a desktop or mobile website, this ability to pinch and zoom is indicative of the mobile experience. Of course, for hardcore gamers, something like the Cougar 700M mouse with its Avago ANDS 9800 laser sensor will be the only way to play PC games. However, for casual gamers, it’s all about touch. Indeed, as games become more tactical, HTML5 will become even more important for game developers.
When you take HTML5 and all its benefits, it’s easy to see why it has become the programming language of choice for developers. Aside from its ability to offer offline play and rich graphics, HTML5 offers a level of flexibility that’s crucial in today’s world. Allowing players to move seamlessly from one medium to another without compromising on quality or familiarity is something developers have taken full advantage of in recent years. In turn, this has created more options for more players on more device and that, in essence, is why HTML5 is the pivotal cog in today’s online gaming machine.