HTML literally stands for HyperText Markup Language, and it is used to create and develop webpages and online content.
In more detail, HTML5 games are the latest version of HTML games, and many would argue that they are the greatest iteration of online games. Where previous generations of online games required players to download extra plugins and applications, HTML5 games are entirely self-contained and work directly on a web browser. With just a mouse click or a screen tap, players are immediately immersed in the world of their chosen game. Adding to that very low loading times, being able to start playing a game so quickly, is another significant benefit of HTML5 games.
Instant access, however, is not the only reason that the gaming industry is embracing HTML games. The other big advantage of the technology is its cross-platform functionality. Designed as a programming language with interoperability, HTML5 makes it possible for developers to write one source code for a game that can then be enjoyed on any screen or device.
This device-agnosticism has become one of the chief selling points of HTML5 games, given the rapid growth of mobile usage and the demand from players to be able to move seamlessly between platforms.
No less important is the fact that HTML5 games can be created using different game engines and frameworks, allowing ever more flexibility for developers.
That marriage between simplicity and multiplayer gameplay is where the promise of HTML5 games truly lies. HTML games are becoming so good that players will soon be able to open their browser and get a gaming experience just as good as if they were playing an AAA title on a costly console or a high-spec computer.
HTML5 technology also enables the possibility of multi-gaming platforms. Under this model, users would have just one app that contains multiple games, all of which would be updated by developers without requiring any action from the user. This kind of configuration, where a world of content is available through a single, convenient “super app” (similar to cloud-based software) is something we’ve already seen with television and video thanks to services like Netflix and Youtube.
HTML5’s position today as one of the world’s leading game programming languages belies its somewhat slow ascent to glory. First introduced in 2008, it was immediately seen as a potential competitor to Flash, the multimedia platform from Adobe that had slowly come to dominate the web after its creation in the 90s.
But HTML5 was unable to unseat Flash straightaway. As the early frontrunner when it came to developing online games, the Adobe platform made it easy for creators to build rich 2D and 3D environments. Innovations such as Adobe Scout and Flare3D refined Flash further and simplified parts of the design process. Could HTML games ever compete?
The short answer is yes. The beginning of the end for Flash games - and the parallel rise to prominence of HTML5 - came in 2010 when, in an open letter published online entitled “Thoughts on Flash,” the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs expressed a number of criticisms of the platform. Jobs railed against Flash for being “a closed system,” unsuited to the demands of a mobile era which, he said, “is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”
Jobs closed out his letter with a prediction, writing, “new open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too).” As was recently well-publicized, Flash finally went universally out of service at the end of 2020, with Adobe even admitting that its retirement was due. As Jobs predicted, HTML5’s moment appears to have arrived and it’s becoming the new standard for online experiences, gaming among them.
As of now, only time will tell how far HTML5 games will go and what new technologies might eventually replace them.
There are countless HTML5 games online out there for players to choose from, and it’s hard to say what the best HTML5 games in the world are. There are certain titles, though, that have attracted interest from millions of players around the world.
As you may have noticed above, we have our very own top-tier HTML5 games:
Two additional (and somewhat obvious) examples of the most popular HTML5 titles around are:
Candy Crush Saga from King is one of the most famous HTML5 games of all time. The simple matching puzzle offering was initially released as a social media game, and then it grew in stature as one of the most popular games for iOS devices. It has been downloaded more than 2.7 billion times, making it by far one of the most successful video games. Its engaging nature with varying puzzles makes it a crowd-pleaser with all demographics.
Angry Birds is another longstanding mobile game that predates the emergence of HTML5. However, the Rovio offering adapted quickly: adjusting to the new technology helped it boost its global appeal. There are few mobile games that can boast as much success as Angry Birds, which has become a sprawling franchise that has transcended the games.
Along with more than 20 (!) games in the main series, there have been numerous spinoffs such as Bad Piggies and Angry Birds: Bird Island, lots of merch (such as plush toys and trading cards) and even theatrical releases of full feature movies.