Why the Web is the Ultimate Target Platform for Games


Over a year ago I was looking for a game engine to invest my time into. Before this I had relegated myself to making 2D games using python + pygame, javascript + phaser, and actionscript + flash. However; I wanted to upgrade from using game libraries into using a full on game engine. I want to know how to make 3D games as well!

I evaluated three engines: Unity, Unreal, and Godot. All three game engines offer similar features and at the time Unity was the only game engine that offered support for building something capable of running inside the browser. Being able to share my game over through the browser has always been a primary criteria for me.

Platform Comparisons

Let me walk you through some scenarios. Each scenario begin with “lets say I made a game…”

A game for consoles

The major consoles at the time of this writing is the Nintendo Switch, Microsoft’s Xbox One, and Sony’s Playstation 5.

Each platform requires its own build and to purchase a developer license. Each of these target platforms has their own rules that must be followed before they allow your game on their platform. As a creator I must follow those platform rules which entails study. I must create my game and then submit it for review by the platform’s reviewing body. If it is approved, I can distribute my game through the online store and make some physical artifacts like game CDs.

Game updates need to be approved. All of this is neat to fantasize about, however… There is a lot of friction for both me as a creator and the player.

A game for phones

The process of making a game for phones is similar to making a game for consoles. Android users install apps through the Google Play Store (or the amazon app store) and iPhone users install apps through the Apple App Store. A game must align with the rules of each platform, which again requires study and a review process. Again, I’ll need to pay for a developer’s license before any of this can start. Assuming approval, I can then distribute my app through the phone’s target app store.

I consider a game for phones comparable in terms of friction as a game for a console.

A game for PCs

PC gaming has fewer friction points than consoles. If I wanted to distribute my game through popular game marketplaces such as Steam, I will have to go through an approval process. Since users of PCs can install programs directly themselves there is a chance of avoiding an approvals process.

The potential player still needs to install something!

Less friction than a game for consoles and for phones but still plenty of friction for me as the creator and the player.

A game for browsers

Finally we are at the last category of game platform I want to talk about. Browsers. Glorious browsers. Why are they so awesome?

When someone visits a website they are rendered a web page inside their browser. No installation is (typically) required to interact with content, at least absent any artificial restrictions some dark patterns may require. It’s just a simple interaction… you go to a website and the web page is there.

Nearly everyone knows how to interact with websites using a web browser. With the pandemic restaurant adaptations, now nearly everyone knows how to interact with QR codes. A person will know what to do if you provide a URL to them. A person will know what to do if you provide a QR code to them.

As a creator I have many options on how to get a web page to a user. Building websites is a well understood problem space with well understood solutions. There is (typically) no approval process to adding something new to the internet.

Browser Gaming has the fewest friction points

As a player, all I need to do is visit a website. Phones, PCs, and even consoles all come with a browser. If I visit a browser game on my PC, I could play it with a touchscreen, with a mouse and keyboard, or even with a gamepad.

As a creator, I do need to know how to host a website which is a big ask. But on top of that I don’t need anyone’s approval. That means I can post up a project in progress game and have someone else play it without a huge time commitment. Which is fantastic.

For me, most of all… I want to be able to share something with someone as quickly as possible. I know everyone carries phones. I don’t want to go through an approvals process for every change. Therefore, I create my games to be played in the browser.

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