Is the Browser Game Dead? Not Quite – it’s Just Reborn

Browser games have been around for decades, offering their players a quick and easy way to dive into the world of gaming with minimum effort and minimal hardware requirements. To play a browser game, one didn’t have to download and install anything – except maybe a browser plugin – but simply click a few times and dig right in. This has turned the browser game into a preferred way to play for many, and an attractive medium for developers – even today, when many consider the browser game “dead”, there are gaming portals with hundreds of thousands of active titles for gamers to choose from, not to mention the free software download for Royal Vegas Canada players. Browser games didn’t die – they merely transformed, and currently seeking their place in the ever-changing game industry. Let’s take a look at them on the peak of their popularity – and at the times of their downfall.

A short history

It all started with FutureWave, a software developer that challenged Macromedia’s Shockwave software by adding frame-by-frame animation tools to its SmartSketch software. Later, Macromedia took over FutureWave, renaming the editor as Macromedia Flash, and adding ActionScript, an object-oriented programming language. As a result, the first browser-based games were released in the mid to late 1990s, followed by the birth of one of the biggest collections of browser-based games, Newsgrounds, in 1998. Major companies found the idea attractive, which led to the creation of many services focusing on browser games – like the Internet Gaming Zone (Microsoft) in 1996, Yahoo! Games, and many others. Miniclip, another well-known browser gaming portal, was founded in 2000. And for the next decade, browser games were all the rage, before starting to decline in 2010.

Apple vs. Flash, HTML5

One of the earliest nails beaten in the coffin of Flash was the iPhone, famous for not supporting the platform. In his open letter “Thoughts on Flash” published in 2010, the late Steve Jobs criticized Flash for its “rapid energy consumption, computer crashes, poor performance on mobile devices, abysmal security”, and “lack of touch support”, among others. Despite Adobe tweaking its software to appeal more to mobile users, the damage was already done – not long ago, the company announced that the technology will be brought to its “end of life” by 2020.

At the same time, alternatives to Flash have emerged. HTML5, a web standard, is capable of delivering features similar to those of Flash using JavaScript (server-side scripting), without the need of a third-party browser plugin. Unity, an alternative programming platform, does use a plugin but it also works as a standalone development tool for desktop and mobile game development. As such, Flash went from “necessary evil” to an almost extinct platform by today.

Browser games live on

A new generation of browser games, with extended support for mobile devices, is in the works today. The above-mentioned Royal Vegas Canada has done its part in pushing it to the mainstream, providing its players with an HTML5-based mobile browser game library with more than 150 titles that are quick and safe to play. Other initiatives, such as N-Dreams’ AirConsole, bring back browser games into our lives in a different form, by turning a browser into a gaming console and a smartphone into a controller.

The browser game is far from being dead – it’s merely reborn in a form that’s more adapted to our times. While it didn’t quite find its place just yet, it’s here to stay.

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