Browser Versions

At IMGDC 2.0, Gordon Walton said (paraphrase) that Star Wars: The Old Republic should be the last MMO (or perhaps online game) made with a standalone client. His logic was that everyone has a web browser, and the web browser does not require a multi-GB download. As a developer, every barrier between your customer and the game costs you customers. (Back to that post from Gordon Walton: you, the self-identified “gamer,” will work hard for a bit of fun, but most paying customers will not.) As a player, I have lost interest in the time it takes to download, install, and learn how to play. As an observer, I would attribute some of the rise of flash and mobile games to the convenience of automated downloads, streamlined installation, and the business brilliance that is the modern app store.

Maybe it takes more than six years for that idea to spread, but there are definitely reasons why you might want a standalone client: the need for gigabytes of content, security controls, and (most importantly to me today) a uniform development platform. “Web browser” is not one thing. One of the drawbacks of developing for the PC (not consoles) is that PCs differ widely in terms of hardware and software, and web browsers create more levels of differences. Are you using Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, or something else? Maybe still using Netscape Navigator? Which version are you using, both major and minor? There are dozens of different ways users could have that one thing configured, and your game needs to work in all of them, with every other hardware and software configuration that goes along with the browser. I can see why you might want to say, “Our client, our world, under our control.”

I spend some days playing tech support for an online system. Some users genuinely have a problem with our system. Others could not remember which password was for our system, remembered the password but had typos, forgot the password for their Windows logon, had trouble with an internet connection, had trouble with Internet Explorer, had trouble using a function that worked slightly differently in Internet Explorer and Chrome, or needed the finer points of using a mouse explained. And those are the questions I remember off-hand from one day. When you are supporting a product on the PC, you are supporting the entire PC. At a previous job, our FAQs included how to update browser settings and how to troubleshoot problems with printer settings. Their printer problems were not our fault, but they were our problem if we wanted customers to make full use of our site.

When you run a hotel, you also get to explain to people how to find your hotel. If they cannot get to your service, they cannot use your service. The construction down the road may not be your fault, but it is still a barrier between you and your customers.

: Zubon

5 thoughts on “Browser Versions

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus

    Working on software that has a web based administration tool that gets exposed to customers, I know that pain. As much as we like to lampoon IE as being the odd duck in the group, as things that work on Chrome or FF will often behave badly, Chrome and FF have their application breaking moments from time to time as well.

    You would probably be better off just doing your client in Java, since there is a JVM for most platforms… if you still want to have your revenue stream depend on a third party.

    Reply
  2. Zubon Post author

    I deleted a bunch of off-topic posts where people stopped by to say how horrible the browser-based games are, people who play them are trash gamers who like trash games, etc. But hey, we all hate Those Other People and you’re better than them, so go you.

    Reply
    1. Wizzu

      I don’t think You understood what people have written in those posts. I’ve read them and I’m quite suprised You go the lenghts to delete them. I didn’t get the feeling that anyone was making himself better because of disliking browser games – but hey, english is not my native language, I might have missed something. O_o
      Well – I’ve guess something changed, because having valid opinion different than author is automaticly off-topic. Nice Zubon, I really like to read Your posts, but that was indecent.

      To be honest – mine answer was written form a perspetive of a guy who is actually writing for a company that is making one browser based game. Touché.

      Reply
      1. Zubon Post author

        No, you didn’t understand if you think referring to “trash” with “no real value” is not disparaging.

        No, I did not disagree with the assessment of the games. Most browser games are not gamer games, and most of them are poor. 90% of everything is crud. That’s the point of the link at the top that people may or may not have followed. What’s off-topic is taking any mention of browser-based development as a chance to say, “All browser-based games are horrible and no one should ever waste time on them.” Which may or may not be true, but it’s irrelevant bile. If someone posts about being sick, it is off-topic to start an Obamacare debate in the comments.

        Reply
        1. Wizzu

          It’s fun to talk about posts, that are deleted and I can’t quote them to support my “opinion”. But please do note, that I wrote that “I don’t think You understood” where You wrote “you didn’t understand”. Don’t do it please. I don’t say You do, but I feel like You have certain attitude while reading commentaries and it’s clear to me that You misread mine.
          You refer to the link at the top of Your post, while games that You named in one of answers (conveniently deleted) were clearly following “not gamer games” road. And answers that followed (in my understanding), were showing You why the “trash” and “no real value” lables are worse barrier between costumer and creator, than standalone client evere were. What is not off-topic is making a link between this situation and statment “all browser-based games I KNOW are horrible and I DON’T WANT to waste time on them”, which I belive was somewhere in between the lines. Still can’t see anything disparaging, and I won’t call something I don’t see a irrelevant bile. Because maybe You are right and You didn’t see it, because it wasn’t there, and I’m just imagine it.
          But hey – I don’t care. It’s not that interesting topic to make me mad about deleted replies. Deleting them just came to me as overreaction.

          Reply

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