Developers have been creating financially successful games with web technologies for many years: Travian was successful using static web pages and Farmville ploughed an entirely new furrow using Flash. But there is now a growing acceptance that HTML5 will be a major platform for games in the future. So why is HTML5 interesting, and is it really ready?
Why Is HTML5 Interesting?
Game developers will typically create content for platforms that have, or have the potential to attract, a large paying audience. When making an investment decision, developers take into account the size of the audience and the potential for that audience discovering, playing and ultimately paying for the game. To recoup their investment, developers need to get a game onto many devices to many consumers in an instantly accessible and simple way.
It's not enough to be a little gaming experiment, a spinning duck with some modern shading - we should be targeting games that match the fidelity possible on other modern platforms
Another potential strength of the HTML5 platform is its sheer reach. Developers love the iOS platform because their game is not only accessible to a huge market, but most importantly it is rapidly accessible to a huge market. HTML5's reach has the potential to include all personal computers no matter the operating system: all mobile devices including Android and iOS, and any other smart Internet connected device such as the mythical Smart TV that may one day start gaining traction. All with just one click on a weblink. Perversely, it is the games consoles that are the least accessible devices when it comes to HTML5 content. But then again, why would the console manufacturers want to enable content that falls outside of their ecosystems?
The console manufacturers' control of their platforms leads us onto another strength of HTML5, namely its neutrality. HTML5 isn't owned or controlled by any single company. The first draft of HTML5 was created in 2004, and arguably the distributed nature of HTML5's development and growth have seriously slowed its progress. But this neutrality is exactly what will give HTML5 a life expectancy well beyond other conceptually similar owned platforms. The platform doesn't have a single vested interest, such as Adobe has with Flash; rather, it has a shared interest for companies building upon the internet as their platform.
The beauty of an HTML5 game is its instant accessibility and deployment. Installation and updates, which still challenge many non-technical users, are all handled by the application developers. The way an HTML5 game is delivered to users is highly efficient. The application is downloaded seamlessly by the browser whenever updates are made, and potentially huge content payloads are distributed on demand by the application. The starting process of an HTML5 game is a generational improvement over the already slick application model used on mobile devices and application stores today.
So it seems HTML5 is nothing special and nothing new. But when you take all of the little differences and strengths together - portability, reach, neutrality and instant accessibilityc - we have something with huge potential. And most importantly of all, there is a groundswell of developers and businesses investing in the platform for their future benefit.
Turbulenz is a free-to-play game network conceived and devoted to pushing the boundaries of HTML5 game in the future and most importantly today. To find out more click here, or attend the Turbulenz-sponsored HTML5 hackathon (gamehack.co.uk) on 28th-29th April.