For longtime Humble Bundle fans, this week's game offerings might look a bit staid. Osmos, Voxatron, Dustforce, FTL, Zen Bound 2 — there are quite a few repeats from earlier bundles. It's the tech at the heart of it all that makes this Humble Mozilla Bundle worth checking out though. All eight games are able to run right in your browser, thanks to ports done internally at Humble.
Humble and Mozilla have partnered up to make these games (and more unveiled next week) available to run right in your browser using asm.js and WebGL web technology. No need to download Steam, no need to download plugins. If you're running a modern build of Firefox or Chrome you can run all eight games just by hitting the Play button on the Humble page. If you're running Firefox you can even check out a demo of the tech by heading to the Firefox Start Page.
Standing on the shoulders of giants
Humble's not the first to explore running full-fledged (read: not Flash) games in a browser. Chrome's Native Client technology, for instance, allows you to run Bastion, and earlier this year I checked out the full-fledged first-person shooter Ballistic.
The difference, as far as I'm concerned, is that people use Humble. The company's game bundles have become a formidable force in the industry, and they've already been a huge influence in bolstering Linux gaming. However, speaking with Humble co-founder and COO John Graham he was unsure how many games would eventually come to your browser. "It takes work to do the ports," says Graham. "You're not going to hear me say we're going to make all the bundles asm.js compatible overnight, but we are interested in doing more of these promotions and this won't just be a one-off for us."
It is incredibly convenient though, and could help woo PC users who are ambivalent about installing a separate storefront such as Steam.
"You look at Steam's hundred million users and that number actually seems a little small. There's seven billion people on the planet, two billion people have fast internet, and there's a hundred million people on Steam," says Graham. "Browsers are platforms. They have hundreds of millions of people, maybe billions, engaging with them all the time. We're curious to see can we break out beyond the hardcore guys who are comfortable downloading and running all these apps."
Hands-on with Humble's web-based games
I haven't checked out all the games but I did run Super Hexagon, which would be most affected by any latency, and noticed no issues whatsoever. Humble has also implemented cloud saves into all eight games so you can play on one computer, leave, and pick up where you left off on another computer as long as you're logged into the same Humble account.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.