GDC China: Why HTML5's negative publicity might be unfounded
Despite its bad publicity, HTML5 is still a viable platform for games and, in fact, most of the top-grossing mobile games of late could have been made using it.
That's according to NonStop Games' Henric Suuronen, a veteran of companies including Digital Chocolate and Wooga, discussed the state of HTML5 games, who spoke at GDC China on Monday.
Suuronen's Singapore-based startup is HTML5-exclusive, and he noted that several recent high-profile stories have maligned the progamming language. Of these criticisms, "some were deserved, some not."
The first PR blow for HTML5 in recent months was from Suuronen's ex-employer Wooga, who said they were pulling out of making HTML5 games. This created big headlines, but Suuronen noted that Wooga were simply saying that HTML5 games were "not really for the mass market" - and in many ways he agrees.
The second PR blow was when Mark Zuckerberg said using HTML5 for mobile was Facebook's biggest mistake of recent - but the NonStop Games founder notes that Facebook still has more users on the browser version than the native version. However, it was still a good move for Facebook to abandon HTML5 because the responsiveness issues meant less people were looking at news feeds - and therefore displaying ads.
Overall, Suuronen suggested that instead of looking at the sometimes overblown press, let's look at what sells. Examining the top-grossing U.S. iOS titles, he suggests that some of the top titles like Kingdoms Of Camelot, Poker by Zynga, Rage Of Bahamut, and Slotomania could be made just as well in HTML5.
But some top games like Clash Of Clans couldn't be, because the "level of polish and level of animation are so high" that it's difficult to do in HTML5. Overall, titles with complex animation and sound and swift responsiveness won't work as well in HTML5, Suuronen admits.
The ability to use a 'wrapper' to run an HTML5 game across web, mobile, Facebook, and other systems all at once mean that NonStop Games believe that hardcore social games are the sweet spot for HTML5 titles.
Games where you can play anywhere easily - on your cellphone, tablet, and PC - lend themselves to HTML5 much better, and you can tailor different short and longform gameplay for the different times of day - commuting versus sitting down in the evening.
Ironically, Suuronen notes that right now the 'casual' games are the more complex in terms of what's screen, but these 'core' social games generally have more depth but less complex animations.
Having started on more casual HTML5 games such as Dollar Isle, NonStop is now concentrating on a more complex, PvP-included fantasy wargame, to be revealed soon, which intends to play up a lot of the advantages that he sees with the language.