The Rise of Browser Games: A Change is Coming
By Topper Bowers
In 2023, GameRefinery predicts a key trend in the gaming industry: Publishers will continue finding ways to bypass Apple and Google’s IAP fees.
It’s time for the browser game comeback.
Once upon a time, browser games were notorious for their limitations: underwhelming graphics, poor player retention features, and lumped with subpar games in crappy distribution channels. But times have changed. Now, browser games are positioned at the cusp of a resurgence, thanks to emerging technologies and a shifting market.
Revolutionizing Browser Game Technology
Historically, browser games faced significant technical obstacles. High overheads on graphics, the absence of player retention tools like push notifications, and substandard distribution tarnished the reputation of browser games. The rise of mobile gaming only deepened these challenges.
However, with new tech, these issues are going away. WebGPU now unlocks console-level graphics in browser games. Mobile Safari has joined the modern times with push notifications, and offline caching capabilities have significantly improved. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) allow games to install like apps, further closing the gap between mobile and browser gaming.
Seeking Distribution Parity with App Stores
Yet, there remains one key piece missing from the puzzle: a distribution channel capable of rivaling the ubiquity and accessibility of app stores. For browser games to truly rise to the forefront, they need a platform that can effectively showcase their potential and reach a broad audience.
The Macro Forces Aligning
Macro forces are aligning in favor of browser games. Both developers and players are growing increasingly frustrated with app store dynamics. Companies chafe under high IAP fees and stringent guidelines, while mobile gamers in many countries face challenges accessing or funding their accounts in app stores.
As the effectiveness of traditional advertising wanes, companies are exploring alternative methods for reaching and retaining players. A noteworthy development in this context is the rise of short-form video platforms, like TikTok, which are driving conversions comparable to app store advertising.
This shift opens a door for browser games, which leverages the platform’s accessibility, lower overheads, and new forms of player engagement.
The Perfect Storm for Browser Games
We now find ourselves in the midst of a perfect storm for browser games. With improved technology, burgeoning frustration with app store dynamics, and the decline of traditional advertising, browser games have the opportunity to come into their own.
Browser games will offer a fresh alternative for players and developers alike, shattering old stereotypes and creating a vibrant, accessible gaming future.
The rise of browser games is upon us — are we ready to play?