Google Turns Chrome into Gaming Platform with NaCl

Pulkit Chandna

Its many detractors think it is regressive, but Google is pretty sure of Native Client (NaCl), a technology that allows Chrome to run native compiled code across different OSes, being “the ideal way of putting rich content and game engines in the browser.” To prove its point, Google hosted a special event at its Mountain View headquarters on December 8.

Google used the event to showcase Native Client’s gaming prowess by showing off NaCl-based versions of games like the critically acclaimed Xbox 360 and PC game Bastion and Square Enix’s multi-platform title Mini Ninjas. The former is already available from the Chrome Web Store , with Mini Ninjas set to enter “an open beta in December without download.”

“In September, we started supporting a set of core Pepper interfaces, suited for 2D graphics, audio, and compute-intensive applications,” wrote Christian Stefansen, Native Client product manager, in a blog post Friday. “Since that release, we’ve shipped additional APIs and capabilities, providing native code with more of the capabilities available from JavaScript. These include hardware-accelerated 3D graphics via OpenGL ES 2.0, a mouse lock API, a full-screen API, and much more.”

“The community is actively involved in Native Client, porting some of the most popular application middleware. Ports include Unity and Moai game engines, programming language environments Mono and Lua, audio middleware such as fmod and Wwise, as well as the Bullet physics engine. These Native Client ports make the web more accessible to hundreds of thousands of application developers.”

However, Google seems to be going against the grain with NaCl as many people within the browser industry, including Mozilla's director of web platforms Chris Blizzard, aren’t convinced. Blizzard  told PCMag.com . "Google's Native Client approach is another way of running compiled, platform-specific binary code in a Web browser. It's not part of the standards-based Web as it's locked to specific combinations of hardware and operating systems. It's Mozilla's mission to ensure that the open technologies of the Web offer all that's needed to make Web applications powerful and interesting, and to see the need for native code use to diminish over time."

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