Developers inspired by "fantastic future" of browser gaming
Could PlayStation and Xbox brands soon offer games content already established on PC and Apple formats?
An increasingly significant portion of the games community is looking at the potential of browser-based gaming – with some predicting that the browser could be the gaming format of the future.
Plugins such as Unity, Silverlight, Flash and Java are behind rich internet games and services such as Fusion Fall and Club Penguin, and also opening up games creation to fresh development talent.
"I think it's great. We're looking at several different projects in the global web-based games market," revealed Frederick Wester, CEO of GamersGate parent Paradox Interactive. "Web-based content and web-based gaming has a fantastic future."
Wester hopes his firm can follow a path already pioneered in Asian regions, but with the added benefit of avoiding known problems in the market.
"In Korea and China this has been huge for many years and what we're doing now is just the baby steps of what they've been doing for a long time. I'm not going to say we're revolutionising anything, because that wouldn't be true, but what we're doing it basically looking at what they've done and try to avoid any pitfalls," he said.
Browser-based gaming doesn't have to be limited by hardware, said David Lau-Kee of Unity, who went as far as to predict that the next iteration of the PlayStation and Xbox brands could be services rather than under-the-TV boxes.
"Here's a prediction for you: PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 are going to be browsers," he offered.
"I think that the value that the format holder is a platform-based service, it's as simple as that. Be it a walled garden or the servers on which these things are running, the hardware itself is largely irrelevant, the future of games is the browser."
Traditional games developers also see the potential of browser gaming too, with Doublesix's James Brooksby pointing to the amount of hardware on the market capable of running games content, and it's reach amongst connected users.
"It's not particulary my field," he admitted, "but I must say it's very impressive what's going on out there. There are one or two PCs and Macs out there in the world and with so many laptops being sold and people filling their time by playing browser games and downloading things, spending bits of money here and there, seeing adverts, you can't deny it's going to continue to be a huge part of gaming."
Simon Oliver, creator of iPhone hit Rolando, sees new talent taking the opportunity to create games and other entertainment through cheaper technology which is becoming increasingly easier to work with.
"They're not necessarily going to become a commercial success but for the people who love to make stuff, it's very exciting," he said.
"Some stuff will take off, some may not, but the tools are getting easier. Tools like Unity, and the open source movement, it's gathering strength everyday. The barriers are coming down all around, You don't necessarily need to be a traditional developer, but if you want to put the time in the tools are there. It's just a matter of time and effort to get something great," he added.