How good will HTML5 games run?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 July 2013, 7:07 am
Rugus asked me to cover the topic of HTML5 games, as he was very impressed with Runescape 3. As I previously wrote, I do believe that making Flash games is a mistake. Companies that exclusively rely on Flash games like Zynga, and Facebook which offers a platform for those Flash games, are both being financially hurt by the trend of people moving away from PCs and onto iOS or Android tablets. So you end up with a game which from its content is close to optimal for playing on a tablet, but which due to being written in Flash isn't playable on a tablet. There are a few "Flash Browser" apps for tablets, but they don't run all games, and if they do they run them sluggishly.

Now I am not a programmer, and I don't know how hard it is to write games in HTML5 instead of Flash. But it appears obvious to me that there is a business opportunity here. Game companies design browser games because of the convenience they offer to players to not be shackled to a specific PC on which the game is installed. It is exactly that sort of game which would also be highly playable on a tablet, as opposed to some PC-to-tablet ports with unwieldy virtual joystick controls. And even if it is harder to make in HTML5, you probably end up saving time by not having to port the game to iOS and Android later.

I managed to run Card Hunter on my iPad in spite of it being a Flash game by using an app called Splashtop, which basically turns my iPad into a remote control for my PC. So I know that from a point of view of the controls, Card Hunter would be very playable on a tablet. But as Splashtop only works on my home WiFi network when the game I want to play is running on my PC, that is far from an ideal solution. If Card Hunter was written in HTML5 instead, it would be much more convenient to anybody with a tablet. And as "anybody with a tablet" is trending towards "most of us", using Flash increasingly looks like a bad strategy.

Right now the number of HTML5 games compared to Flash games is still small, but that could quickly change. It all depends on how well HTML5 games will run on various platforms. If the same game that is difficult to play on an iPad with some Flash browser can be made to run smoothly in HTML5 on the same device, Flash will soon look like Betamax.
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