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Big improvements for browser games on the horizon, says Epic's Sweeney

The next big step in browser games is playing console and mobile titles as native HTML5 applications, predicts Epic Games (Gears of War, Unreal Engine) CEO Tim Sweeney in Gamasutra's latest feature.
In a few years, gamers could be playing titles developed for consoles or mobile platforms in their browsers as native HTML5 applications, without any slowdown or stability issues, thanks to advancements in cross-compiling technology. "We're slowly heading in that direction as an industry," says Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney in Gamasutra's latest feature. "You should be able to take any game -- a PlayStation 3 or iOS game, for example -- and just go to that and play it from any web browser." He points out that Adobe's Flash has evolved much in the last decade from a scripting language for interactive pages, to a powerful tool for developers. Adobe has also created a translator that enables browsers to play games built with Flash-compatible engines, such as Epic's Unreal Engine 3. "You give it any C++ program, like Unreal Engine 3, and it translates it to a platform-independent application that can run within Flash, within any web browser or on any platform where Flash runs," says Sweeney. "That's an awesome breakthrough; it shows you the possibilities." "I think the next step in that is cross-compiling games from C++ or whatever and directly running them as native HTML5 and JavaScript applications within any standard web browser," he predicts. Developers can already do that today, in theory, but those games would likely run slow and crash often due to the early state of JavaScript implementations and current web browsers. Sweeney adds, "In another few years, I think that's going to be a very realistic scenario. And so the web will generally be a platform, and you can have a real application with a full feature set that runs within a web browser; that'll be very welcome. "The web is a fairly awkward experience when you use a platform that's not the majority of the install base, and I think we're going to see big improvements there in the next few years." The full feature interview, in which Epic Games' Tim Sweeney talks more about the future of the games industry and its technology, is live now on Gamasutra.

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