Unity 5 boasts WebGL support, paving the way for enhanced browser games

New engine revealed at Games Developers Conference

Unity and Firefox browser distributor Mozilla have announced that the upcoming Unity 5 engine will feature WebGL support.


The news, as confirmed and detailed on the Mozilla blog, means gamers will be able to play hardware accelerated games on web browsers without the need for plug-ins such as Flash or the Unity Player.

Web games with high-end graphics will exploit the hardware of the PC they are rendered on, meaning that the games will still be dependent on capable graphics cards, CPUs and memory. But no instillation or package downloads are necessary, potentially paving the way for near-instant high-end gaming.

The announcement comes alongside a reveal of the new Unity engine at the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Developers will be able to export their Unity-developed games directly to websites, removing the need to compile them for the Unity Web Player or Flash. Instead, the browser will use Mozilla's own WebGL technology to render graphics using the computer's GPU.

While the games will run on all modern browsers that support WebGL, performance will be increased by browsers that also support the asm.js Javascript subset, such as Mozilla Firefox.

To demonstrate this, Mozilla released a video of FPS title Dead Trigger 2 running in a Firefox browser at a near-native speed.

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"We believe WebGL and asm.js will be driving the future of gaming on the Web. We're happy to see the platform mature and look forward to helping to drive its evolution," said Unity Technologies senior developer Ralph Hauwert.

"Our work with Mozilla has been incredibly productive. Together we have overcome many challenges, so that today we can announce the WebGL deployment add-on for Unity that will provide the best possible experience that our developers have come to expect."

Unity 5 revealed

Unity 5 is promoted as a "massive update" to the multiplatform games engine.

The engine is now uses 64-bit technology, and has overhauled the game's audio, lighting and shader tools.

Due to its free-to-try business model, along with its widely praised approachability, the Unity Engine has helped indie games development community enter new heights in the past five years.

Thousands of games across iOS, PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Wii and Android are built on the technology.

Additional reporting: Rob Crossley