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Google rethinks Chrome update after it breaks countless HTML5 games

Developers have until October to alter their code before Google fully reinstates update

Google has temporarily rolled back an update to the Chrome browser which effectively broke countless HTML5 games.

The beta update was introduced earlier in March in order to discourage ad block usage by altering its policy on autoplay objects so that the audio is muted by default.

However, this small change reportedly wreaked havoc for developers of HTML5 games, causing Google to eventually rethink the update.

In an effort to resolve the issue, Google has now updated Chrome 66 to temporarily remove the autoplay policy for the Web Audio API.

"We're doing this to give Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features) more time to update their code," said a Google spokesperson in response to a support thread.

"The team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers, but in this case we didn't do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers using the Web Audio API."

While Google has implemented this change, it is only temporary and developers who have not devised fixes for their work by October will find themselves in the same situation as before.

The news was met largely with negative responses from developers who criticised Google for offering only half-solutions.

"I appreciate the revert, but this only provides some extra time until you do exactly the same thing, with largely the same consequences," said one developer.

Creators who are unable to update their existing games by October "still face the effective cultural erasure of those works" said Getting Over It developer Bennett Foddy.

"You guys definitely have the power to break everyone's work, should you wish to exercise that power, but you do not have the power to make people add workarounds to code that they are not able to alter," he added. "Nobody has that power."

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Latest comments (1)

Kaveh Rassoulzadegan CEO & Co Founder, OK-Roms, Corp.6 months ago
I may appear a bit cold, but I think this Bennett Foddy should be "Getting Over It" (xD), because it sound a bit childish to me to complain (at least in this manner), without obviously realizing some context and how much time he saved already with game development literal "bypasses" such as HTML5, if compared to traditional game development.

In this field, there is REALLY no free lunch !

This person has to understand that zillions of developers daily implement fixes to address issues induced by OS updates, without crying at the very first thing broken by the OS manufacturer here or there.
As an example, PlayStation firmware updates often break some execution in some games without the studios accusing straight SCEI to "culturally erase their work".. And this is for C++ code bases, by the way, not simple HTML5 + JS (!?).

Without wanting to appear elitist or to specifically take the defense of google on this shot, although if you let google take care of your game engine components, there are at least some little sacrifices to accept.

Chrome is a web browser that is most of all in charge of their end-users browsing security, so they can safely manage private sensible information (bank accounts access, etc..).
We can't call google developers trying to improve those security layers, to literally "break everyone's work" if some games were based on outdated components / API.

If a game developer is not happy with what a given web browser has to offer in terms of techno, then it is time for him to seriously consider writing a whole executable around his game.
People have nowadays a lot of alternatives for deploying their own web browser based on open source project, and for example "alter" a chromium or other based modules if they really want to stick to HTML5, but hey, they should relativise and be already grateful for how fast they can achieve things nowadays..
One have at least to implement some little fixes himself if he wants to redact the strict minimum code.
Compared to traditional game development, HTML5 developers saved enough time regarding deployment and compatibility for at least considering some time for adapting their work to a constantly evolving target. No targeting strategy is drawbacks-free.

Of course, google could have better anticipate the direct consequences of their policy changes, but October look a pretty fair amount of time for just fixing Web Audio API autoplay related issues..
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