Browser game

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Freeciv is an HTML5 browser game

A browser game is a computer game that is played over the Internet using a web browser.[1] Browser games can be run using standard web technologies[2] or browser plug-ins. The creation of such games usually involves use of standard web technologies as a frontend and other technologies to provide a backend. Browser games include all video game genres and can be single-player or multiplayer. Browser games are also portable and can be played on multiple different devices, web browsers and operating systems. [3]

Browser games come in many genres and themes that appeal to both regular and casual players.


Browser games are often free-to-play and do not require any client software to be installed apart from a web browser or browser plug-in. In some cases a game may be free, but charge for extra in-game features. Multiplayer browser games have an additional focus on social interaction, either between several players or on a massive scale. Due to the accessibility of browser games, they are often played in more frequent, shorter sessions compared to traditional computer games.[4]

Since browser games run isolated from hardware in a web browser, they can run on many different operating systems without having to be ported to each platform.[5]


Browser games can take advantage of different technologies in order to function.

Web standards

Standard web technologies such as HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScript can be used to make browser games, but these have had limited success because of issues with browser compatibility and quality. These technologies, collectively termed dynamic HTML, allow for games that can be run in all standards-compliant browsers.[6] In addition, dedicated graphics technologies such as SVG and canvas allow for the fast rendering of vector and raster graphics respectively.[2] In addition, WebGL allows for hardware-accelerated 3D support in the browser.[7][8]

Comparison of web technologies[notes 1]
Chrome Firefox Internet Explorer Opera Safari
SVG Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Canvas Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
WebGL Yes Yes[9] Yes [10] Yes Yes


Browser plug-ins can be used to provide game technologies after being installed by the user.

Comparison of browser plug-ins
Windows Mac OS X Linux License[notes 2] Installed base[notes 3]
Flash Yes Yes Yes Proprietary[11] 96%[12]
Java Yes Yes Yes Open source (free)[13][14] 78%[12]
Shockwave Yes Yes No Proprietary[15] 52%[16]
Silverlight Yes Yes Partial (Moonlight - LGPL) Proprietary[17] 62%[12]
Unity Yes Yes No Proprietary[18] 1%[19]

See also


  1. Availability refers to the latest stable version only.
  2. Refers to the reference implementation. There may be alternative implementations under different licenses.
  3. Stated as a percentage of web browsers.


  1. D Schultheiss: Long-term motivations to play MMOGs: A longitudinal study on motivations, experience and behavior, page 344. DiGRA, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Graphics — W3C". 2010-02-18. Retrieved 2010-05-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "The PBBG Project". Retrieved 2010-05-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. C Klimmt: Exploring the Enjoyment of Playing Browser Games, page 231. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 2009.
  5. E Adams: Fundamentals of Game Design, page 80. New Riders, 2009.
  6. Stephen DownesAugust 17, 1999 11:01 p.m. "Fun and Games With DHTML ~ Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes". Retrieved 2010-05-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Anthony, Sebastian (2009-12-11). "3D browser apps and games creep ever closer with the WebGL draft standard". Retrieved 2010-05-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Google Web Toolkit Blog: Look ma, no plugin!". 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2010-05-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Mozilla Firefox 4 Release Notes". 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2013-06-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "WebGL (Preliminary)". MSDN. Microsoft. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Flash EULA" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-03-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Web Browser Plugin Market Share / Global Usage". Retrieved 2010-04-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Moving to OpenJDK as the official Java SE 7 Reference Implementation (Henrik on Java)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Java Platform, Standard Edition 7 Reference Implementations — Project Kenai".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Shockwave EULA" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-03-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Shockwave Player Adoption Statistics". Adobe. Retrieved 2010-04-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Terms Of Use". Retrieved 2011-03-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT". Retrieved 2011-03-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Thoughts On Browser Plugin Penetration". Unity Technologies. Retrieved 2011-03-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links