Unreal Engine 3 comes to the browser

No plug-ins, just AAA gaming in Firefox
Darren Allan

March 29, 2013

Fancy playing 3D games in your browser? I mean real 3D games powered by the Unreal Engine 3, like Mass Effect 3 for example, right in your web browser with no need for extensive plug-ins or other jiggery-pokery.

Yes, Mozilla has announced via a blog post that it has got the Unreal Engine motoring away in Firefox, and is showing the feat off at GDC this week.

While browser gaming is certainly nothing new, “real” gaming in a browser certainly is, and Mozilla has achieved this feat by using a “highly optimised” version of JavaScript.

In the blog post, Mozilla enthuses: “We are excited to unlock this technology for high-performance games, by teaming up with Epic Games. By leveraging this new JavaScript optimisation technology, Mozilla has been able to bring Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 to the web. With this port, developers will soon be able to explore limitless possibilities when it comes to porting their popular gaming titles to the web.”

And it will be a “highly responsive” and “visually compelling” 3D gaming experience, no less.

It does sound like a very smart idea, of course, but the reality is that it will probably be a while before we’re all enjoying triple-A games inside Firefox.

Perfecting the 3D gaming frame rates aside, to maintain the visual quality of today’s games will take quite some bandwidth whizzing textures through to the browser, so you’ll certainly need a good broadband connection.

But then again, OnLive has managed to deliver quality streaming gaming successfully, in terms of the technical side even if the UK wasn’t quite ready for the concept of streaming gaming itself just yet.

Also, if high quality games do come to the browser, it’ll at least give Chromebook Pixel owners a reason to have that stupidly high-res screen on a cloud-based machine.

As we move onwards into the future of gaming, it’s already thought that console hardware will become far less important, until the “console” is simply an ethernet cable and controller, with the game in the cloud.


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