Today, during the Adobe Max 2011 event, Epic Game’s Tim Sweeney made an interesting announcement pretty much out of left field. No, he doesn’t have the iPhone 5, but Unreal Engine 3 can run in Flash. By extension, games like Gears of War 3, Unreal Tournament 3, Batman: Arkham City, and even Saw II: Flesh & Blood, can theoretically run in a browser.
Granted, when running in Flash, Unreal Engine 3 won’t look as good as it might in more traditional scenarios, but just take a moment to think about the sort of graphics you usually see in browser-based games. With any luck, you will soon be able to watch your FarmVille grass grow in 3D.
There are a huge number of applications for this technology, many of which probably haven’t even been thought of yet. The most obvious prediction is that this will soon become an important factor in the recent free-to-play explosion. It could also give streaming game services that provide a similar, toned-down-visuals experience, but with the requirement of relatively high bandwidth a run for their money.
The downside of all this is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse time to crack open such awesome Flash functionality. Not only has Apple abandoned Flash in favor of HTML5, but so has Windows 8 Metro, and to some extent, Adobe itself. Whether or not this might breathe new life into the relatively unstable, crash-prone standard, it is still a really cool advancement in browser-based gaming technology. Hopefully some licensees will find cool things to do with it and really raise the bar for browser-based games above the “click a button and wait several hours” genre.
- Glitch is a pretty good example of how in-depth browser-based games have gotten so far
- A list of good browser-based games to play at work
- And here’s an example of what HTML5 brings to the table