WebRTC World Feature Article

October 24, 2013

How to Get HTML5 Ready for Prime Time in Gaming

The HTML5 market as a whole has made a lot of advances in recent months, and has seen quite a few services take advantage of the new platform. Gaming has, perhaps, made one of the biggest such efforts, seeing several titles take advantage of HTML5. But even here, HTML5 isn't exactly ready for the big time just yet, though with some important changes and perhaps some new perspectives, some believe it can be fully ready much sooner than anyone may have expected.

HTML5 offers plenty of advantages to its users, especially those who put it to work in game development. Rapid development time is often a standard when it comes to HTML5 use, and for developers who want to develop a game or an application once and have it available for every platform—mobile or otherwise—HTML5 is commonly the order of the day. Austin Hallock at Gamasutra described HTML5 as producing games “akin to early iOS games,” and follows up that somewhat backhanded praise by noting that “we're starting to see games pushing the bar even further on mobile.”

However, while it's entirely possible to make a game in HTML5, and only slightly less possible to make a good game in HTML5, there aren't any huge commercial successes to point out to really drive home the point that, yes, this can be done in HTML5. However, there are some critical points Hallock recommends in order to really light a fire under HTML5.

First, improve the performance on mobile devices. Half the point of a game is that it works smoothly, the first time and every time, and while HTML5's performance on mobile has been rapidly improving, there's still plenty more room for that to get better. Without that improvement, it's going to be a tough sell to get developers behind the platform. Some major sources of improvement have come from intermediary systems like Ludei's CocoonJS and Intel's Accelerated Canvas App Game Interface that help put some extra punch in the performance, though these aren't exactly the solutions many had hoped for. Further help comes in asm.js, which provides some exciting conversion tools that often yield performance boosts as well.

Second, more browsers need to get into HTML5. With Internet Explorer and many common browsers less than enthusiastic about the matter, a big chunk of potential market is being left out. Though IE11 will include support for WebGL at last report, there's still plenty of room here for improvement as well. Bringing in more support for Web-based real time communications (WebRTC) will not only give developers more to work with but will also provide gamers a better experience.

Finally, there is the issue of tools in general. More tools, and better tools, are needed to really make HTML5 ready for prime time. These include tools to better facilitate monetization, as well as game creation tools like better engines. Improved distribution channels to help get more gamers in front of the games in question will also prove helpful.

So clearly, there is still quite a bit that HTML5 needs to really take off. Indeed, current reports suggest many companies are in the midst of“utter confusion” when it comes to just what HTML5 can do, and that makes for a bad situation for gamers and game developers — not to mention app developers — alike.

But with a few changes, HTML5 can come into its own and be a fully-realized development tool. That's a move that's good for all concerned.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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