Epic and Mozilla will run 'Unreal Engine 4' for web-based gaming

Unreal Engine 4 will be able to power web-based games at speeds similar to games loaded on a computer.
By Ananth Baliga  |  March 12, 2014 at 1:41 PM
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REDMOND, Wash., March 12 (UPI) -- Epic and Mozilla will run Unreal Engine 4 on Firefox without plugins, which will provide web-based games with similar performance as those loaded on a computer.

The collaboration was announced at last year's Game Developers Conference, when Mozilla used Unreal Engine 3 to run games on their browser. This was the first time web-based gaming had run smoothly without a plugin. Demos of Epic's Soul and Ninja Swing games ran plugin-free and were close to native code speeds at a demonstration on Wednesday.

“This technology has reached a point where games users can jump into via a Web link are now almost indistinguishable from ones they might have had to wait to download and install,” said Brendan Eich, Mozilla's CTO.

The improved performance comes from a JavaScript code optimizer called ASM.js and the JavaScript compiler Emscripten. Last year, ASM.js was processing at two times the speed of regular JavaScript, but only at 40 percent the speed of native code. But with the improvements, ASM.js can now run at 66 percent the speed of native code.

Mozilla is now looking at optimizing ASM.js for mobile too. Developers nowadays are looking to build cross-platform apps and making this technology work seamlessly across platforms will only benefit Mozilla.

One of the first game developers to jump on the ASM.js bandwagon was NomNom Games. They showed the first web-based demo for their Monster Madness game back in December 2013.

"We saw about half our users come to [Monster Madness, the first commercial Unreal Engine 3 game published on the Web] from the Web because it was the easiest to access. One-quarter of those who came stayed on the Web version. It's now our largest user platform," said Jeremy Stieglitz, CTO at NomNom Games.

Stieglitz said that apart from reducing the time it takes to download a game, being web-based also helps games go viral and get new players.

"We're reorienting our development plans around the Web, and we've been very much a desktop-centric developer," he said.

[TechCrunch] [CNET]

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