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Devs debate Unreal’s Firefox debut

A report on The Mozilla Blog revealed the company has developed a highly-optimised version of JavaScript that it said “supercharges a developer’s gaming code in the browser to enable visually compelling, fast, 3D gaming experiences on the web”. Through teaming up with Epic Games, the browser maker added it’s brought Unreal Engine to the web, without any need for plug-ins.

Mozilla argued that the port meant developers will “soon be able to explore limitless possibilities when it comes to porting their popular gaming titles to the web”. Ex-Mozilla technical evangelist Rob Hawkes greeted the news; on Twitter, he posted: “So the whole Unreal and Mozilla thing… I told you the future is bright for HTML5 games. And it's going to get even brighter!”

Speaking to .net, Goodboy co-founder Mat Groves, part of the team behind HTML5 2D renderer pixi.js, was a little more cautious. “The main issue is people don’t yet look to browsers for immersive, deep 3D gameplay,” he said. “However, that's simply a cultural shift and there's no reason why casual content can't utilise Unreal tech—stick Unreal-powered Temple Run in people's faces and I'm sure it will all go off a charm!”

Groves added that Mozilla’s work was another big step towards an open and online gaming environment: “Plug-in free is one thing, but we’re also keen on platform-free. As we state in our latest blog post, the stage is becoming increasingly set for an explosion of browser-based entertainment content across all devices. Native apps will always have their place, but online gaming will thrive in an arena free from third-party approval.”

However, freelance game developer and designer Iain Lobb wasn’t so sure, and largely dismissed Mozilla’s latest news as irrelevant: “There's only one story that matters for WebGL, and that's ‘Internet Explorer adds support for WebGL’. There’s no story here that I can see. Nobody will actually use Firefox’s Unreal port, like nobody used the Unreal engine that was ported to Flash.”