October 11, 2012

Microsoft Stages Coup of iOS, Brings Contre Jour to Web with HTML5

In a move that shows that the Microsoft / Apple (News Alert) rivalry is anything but dead and at the same time shows the incredible destabilizing power for the industry represented by HTML5, Microsoft announced earlier this week that Contre Jour, formerly available only for iOS, was now available on any platform just by going to a simple website.

Microsoft (News Alert) and Contre Jour’s developers gotten together and created the web-based version, providing the first 30 levels, or three chapters, of the game. The HTML5 version of Contre Jour is said to be identical to the native app, with the same look and feel, as well as methods of operation, as the original. Moreover, there are 10 levels in the HTML5 version that are exclusively for browsers like Internet Explorer 10, which offer support for multi-touch capability. Though the game is specifically designed for touchscreen devices, the conversion is also geared toward working with a mouse and keyboard. Though not all the levels will work with this more traditional, and in many cases more familiar, control scheme, many of them will, and the end result is that many players will actually forget that they’re on a website instead of working with a native app…at least, so says the projection of Internet Explorer general manager Ryan Gavin.

Perhaps the most amazing part about this new development is the reaction from Contre Jour’s creator, Maksym "Max" Hryniv, who thought that Contre Jour simply could not be done for the web. Hryniv even admitted as much, but quickly turned around, saying "Once I understood how amazing the Web game could be, I immediately went to work on creating more levels!"

Contre Jour, which translates from the French roughly as "against daylight", requires the player to alter the world around their character–moving tendrils, engaging pulleys and the like–to get that character, a creature known only as Petit (or Little) to safety in each level. As interesting as that sounds–and plays–this isn’t Microsoft’s first foray into browser-based PC gaming; recently, Microsoft brought the Atari Arcade into play, an HTML5-based experience that gave users access to eight different games made with the new platform. Microsoft has also brought HTML5 to bear on music videos, shopping catalogs, and other experiences that show that this platform has a lot of room to run.

Where previously, some might have wondered just what point there was to HTML5, the point is rapidly being made through an ever-increasing series of new applications for it. Its destabilizing effects may not have reached their full fruition just yet, but they’re becoming very clear, and this is a case in point. Contre Jour was formerly an iOS-only affair. But HTML5 has not only taken it out of its iOS box and made it more widely available, but it’s also actually managed to make it a bit better, with new levels in design by the game’s maker. This is going to turn a lot of apps stores on their collective ear; what value is there for developers in being an iOS exclusive when programming in HTML5 offers up iOS, Android, and Windows Phone (NewsAlert) devices, among others?

It’s going to be interesting to see just what HTML5’s effect on the wider industry is, but it may well be the beginning of the end for many app stores out there that offer up apps for their own infrastructure and nothing else.

Edited by Brooke Neuman


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