One of the big factors to game engine Unity’s success is that for awhile it ran on basically any platform be it Oculus, PS Vita or home consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But according to the developer, recent moves by the likes of Google, Microsoft and Mozilla are going to put an end to that. The latest version of Chrome doesn’t have support for a specific plugin (NPAPI, specifically) that the Unity Web Player relies on, and Unity says that Firefox’s support for plugins is going the way of the buffalo while Edge isn’t supporting them at all. Most everything is moving toward WebGL these days.
So what’s that mean for the countless number of browser-based games that rely on Unity Web Player to function? For now you’re going to have to use an older version of your favorite browser that still plays nicely with NPAPI. Unity for its part says that it’s working to figure out “alternative technical solutions” to keep the games running. “Unity deeply understands the importance and historical relevance of Web Player powered games, and keeping this back catalogue of games playable is something we care about,” company blogger Jonas Echterhoff writes.
The game industry still hasn’t come up with a way to preserve its history properly — an HD remake of a quirky browser game likely isn’t going to happen — so it’s refreshing to see Unity take proactive steps to keep the wealth of games floating around the web up and running. It’s the exact opposite of what Adobe is doing in the face of killing off Flash and its bevy of titles, and honestly, Unity should be commended for it. After all, we shouldn’t accept the first game by John Carmack’s son disappearing forever. On a related note, Kotaku has a great piece on the impending doom of Flash-based games and you should definitely check it out.