February 25, 2013

A Closer Look at HTML5 Gaming at MWC 2013

With Mobile World Congress (NewsAlert) (MWC) 2013 in full swing, it’s brought out some new points about HTML5, and especially its larger overall impact on gaming. While HTML5 is still, clearly, not without its problems, the word at MWC is largely optimistic, and looking not only at the positives of the new Web standard, but also on how to fix the drawbacks so that they are drawbacks no longer. This was evidenced by discussions with several developers currently on hand at the big event.

The most recent reports indicate that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C (NewsAlert)) is planning to release the finished spec for HTML5 in July 2014, giving developers about a year and a half to figure out how to get up and running with the new language. Early word from developers suggests that the standards, as they stand, are well-liked so far, but there’s room for improvement on all sides. Many companies, however, aren’t waiting for the standards to go live and are instead putting together ways to use HTML5 ahead of the final spec release.

One company, Ludei, is already bringing several game makers onto its platform. Currently showing at MWC 2013, Ludei claims to have 3,000 developers on its platform in the space of just 12 months. But even Ludei sees some problems with HTML5, especially as related to the mobile browser. Ludei’s vice-president of engineering, Iker Jamardo, pointed out one key issue in cross-platform compatibility, saying, "If you develop in HTML5, it should work in every web browser. When you go mobile, go to iOS and Android (NewsAlert), you’re going to have some problems with the browser. The first problem you’re going to face is performance – graphic performance, sound – also access to in-app purchases, native advertising, push notifications, analytics…you need these things to make your game successful."

Indeed, developing for HTML5 hasn’t ended so well for many companies in the recent past. Back in August, Mark Zuckerberg (NewsAlert) reportedly declared HTML5 development to be Facebook’s "biggest mistake." Facebook wasn’t alone, either, as German developer Wooga halted HTML5 development saying "the technology is not there yet." But the closer we get to the finished spec next July, the more likely we are to see the technology get there, and the more likely we are to see more things developed in HTML5.

As Jamardo put it, "you really have to think that HTML5 is the future." It’s simply got too much to offer for it not to be the future. Like anything else that is "the future," however, early adopters are likely to have a tougher time getting their devices and products to work than those who wait for the technology to be polished. Such is the way of things when a technology is still essentially in the development stages. We’ve seen it with Siri, and now we’re seeing it with HTML5. Indeed, some–like AOL’s–are already using HTML5 to great effects, and things will likely only get better the closer we get to finished spec and the official release.

While HTML5 isn’t as yet the end all be all in mobile, it’s still got a lot of room for improvement. There are many ways to make what has already shown itself to be a good thing even better, and maybe even change the face of gaming as we know it.

Edited by Brooke Neuman


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