Many have argued that HTML5 can’t compete with high quality computer gaming but this is about to change with WebGL powered HTML5. WebGL is a new standard in HTML5 that allows games to gain access to hardware acceleration. Just like native games. The introduction of WebGL in HTML5 is a massive leap in what the browser can deliver and it allows for web games to be built with previously unseen graphics quality. HTML5 as a cloud gaming solution addresses the key difficulties described below.

WebGL powered HTML5 leverages local (cheap) computing power, and not (expensive) server hardware. With the introduction of WebGL, HTML5 games can take advantage of local hardware just like native games, thus maximizing the local computational power available.

WebGL powered HTML5 does not require that much bandwidth during gameplay. Since the game assets are downloaded (pre-cached) before and during gameplay, even modest speed internet connections suffice.

HTML5 runs in the browser on multiple devices and does not need any special client software to be downloaded and installed. This is a pretty big deal. It allows for games to be published on nearly every conceivable web site, and since it runs directly in the browser, it opens up unprecedented viral opportunities and social media integration.

At the moment, there is one challenge still with HTML5 as a cloud gaming solution. For on-demand portals looking to offer cloud gaming, the current scarcity of high quality games on HTML5 is the biggest problem. The biggest advantages of the pixel streaming solution are the fairly moderate cost of on-boarding games and that existing native games can be installed on the central serving system relatively easy, even though a certain amount of conversion requiring upfront investment is needed. Porting an existing game to WebGL powered HTML5 still means a fair amount of work.

However, as a number of “pure” HTML5/Web OS platforms, such as Firefox OS, Tizen and Chrome OS, are emerging into the internet ecosystem, this problem might solve itself. The arrival of these platforms eventually will lead to a growing portfolio of games on HTML5 and that portfolio might well be leveraged by on-demand player and online portals with already existing browser interfaces for their customers.

In conclusion, cloud gaming through pixel streaming has shown to be very expensive to operate and scale. In addition it requires thick wires (i.e. substantial, resilient bandwidth to reach the gamer) if he or she ever even manages to download and install the cloud gaming client required. HTML5 with the arrival of WebGL is a viable alternative to the pixel streaming model, since it leverages local computing power, requires little to no server muscle, can be delivered efficiently over standard internet connections, and be played in the browsers most people already have.

As the number of games utilizing this new HTML5 standard grows it might well play out as an elegant and cost-effective solution for on-demand media houses looking to integrate computer games into their online offering.

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