Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
There are industry rumors that Apple may ultimately cut a deal with Adobe to allow Flash on iOS, but even if
that happens, my personal sense is that HTML5 will become the de facto standard in five or so years. However,
that's a whole generation away, in Internet years. Until then, it's best to follow Paul Preece's advice—“If you're
making a game for the web, then yes, use Flash.”
Whatever the dominant platform is that drives the web in the next few years, in any case, the most important
principle for developers is to develop with an eye toward multiple platforms. “The main thing to consider is to
be platform-agnostic and always on the lookout for new opportunities,” as gaming analyst David Cole of DFC
Intelligence puts it. “The beauty of web games is they work on all kinds of platforms and platforms can pop
up at any time. Five years ago there was no iOS opportunity; two years ago there was no iPad; Android is still
young, and ditto with Facebook. A company like PopCap was successful because they quickly moved to new
platforms... Angry Birds became a success on iPhone, but its true success was going multi-platform. That cross-
platform play is the key to success. I think too many developers get locked into one platform.”
Fellow analyst Billy Pidgeon concurs—“On technology, it's important to support the broadly distributed
formats, such as Flash, while considering support for other platforms (PHP, Java) and emerging tech such as
HTML5,” he says. “Always consider support for a new platform with big-spending backers. Independent de-
velopers may see far smaller distribution through new platforms, but may gain big money for exclusive deals.
Smart TV, including Apple TV and Google TV, is also going to be a major platform and is a natural migra-
tion for web games.” (By SmartTV, sometimes called Hybrid TV , Pidgeon means the next generation line of
Internet-connected, social media-integrated televisions.)
The Rise of Hard-Core on the Web
For the hard-core audience, however, the ultimate question is whether they want to play on the web or on the next-gen console.
Given the rise of Unity deployed in Flash and other 3D-friendly platforms on the web, Spark Capital's Nabeel
Hyatt believes the web may trend more and more toward a hard-core audience over time, especially since it's
not as ideal a channel for casual games as Facebook. In the next few years, he says, “Consumers will start to see
[web] graphics getting close to consoles.”
At the same time, Hyatt notes, the audience for web games seems to have peaked. This has happened even
with the growth of graphics quality in web games. (From my perspective, that's probably because hard-core
gamers already have the graphics power on their PCs to run high-end games on Steam, or via downloadable
clients—so why would they shift to core-focused games on the web?) “But,” Hyatt suggests, “that may change
with some new thing I can do on the web that I can't do elsewhere.”
Which takes you to Hyatt's next prognostication, covered in the following section.
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