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Unreal Engine 4 heads to web browsers

March 12, 2014 | By Kris Graft

March 12, 2014 | By Kris Graft
More: Social/Online, Video

It might be hard to believe that a next-gen graphics engine like Unreal Engine 4 would be able to run in a browser, but here you go.

Today, Firefox creator Mozilla and Unreal Engine developer Epic Games showed the first glimpse of Unreal Engine 4 running in Firefox with no plug-ins. That means the same engine that powers graphically intensive next-gen console and PC games can also take advantage of the accessibility of a web-based format.

Firefox and Epic had been working on game-centric web technologies for some time now. Last year, the companies showed off Unreal Engine 3 running in Firefox using the JavaScript subset asm.js.

Engine performance appears smooth in Firefox, but it's not quite near native. Mozilla expects optimizations to continue quickly. Though performance is optimized for Firefox, any modern browser can run asm.js content.

Mozilla CTO and SVP of engineering Brendan Eich said in a statement, "Using Emscripten to cross-compile C and C++ into asm.js, developers can run their games at near-native speeds, so they can approach the web as they would any other platform."

The companies stressed that UE4 isn't just for high-end, graphically intensive games. The video above also shows a demo for a side-scrolling platform game.

Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games added, "We believe the web has a crucial part to play in the future of game development and deployment, and Mozilla has proven it is the catalyst to make this happen."

You'll be able to see UE4 in Firefox in person at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week at both Epic and Mozilla's booths.

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