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How Will Google Chrome OS Change Gaming?

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Infinite JourneyGoogle’s (s GOOG) Chrome OS has added a very interesting wrinkle to the future of online gaming. As we reported back in May, Google reportedly plans to fully integrate O3D, the company’s rich 3D graphics plug-in, into the Chrome browser by the end of this year. That gives Google a platform for game development that’d be a seamless part of its OS when it’s released next year. A number of developers are already creating games for O3D; for instance, here’s a demo for Infinite Journey (a screenshot of which is on the left), a visually engaging, Mario-style title showcased at the recent Google I/O conference. If consumers embrace netbooks pre-installed with Google OS, I think we’re likely to see O3D become an increasingly popular platform for games — at the expense of Windows-based PC games and web-based games powered by Flash.

But what do game industry insiders make of Chrome OS? I just reached out via email to several leading CEOs; here’s a sampling of their takes:

Jim Greer, CEO of casual game portal Kongregate: “I think it will have an immediate effect on the booming netbook market, and a slower one on gaming. PC game developers always need to make sure that their games work on a very broad variety of machines, so they won’t be able to target the Google OS specifically. Having said that, the more netbooks there are out there, the more attractive web game development will be.”

Raph Koster, CEO of web-based virtual world Metaplace: “A 3D engine plug-in, perhaps, could have impact. But bear in mind, it’d have to be pre-installed or have a very compelling killer app. And even then, that only drives adoption on the Chrome OS, not necessarily in the larger browser world. And no, [the Chrome OS announcement] doesn’t change our strategy at all. Another platform, another device, yay. I would be very surprised if the Chrome OS doesn’t run Flash, which would mean we would run on it out of the box.”

Steve Hoffman, CEO of web-on-MMO startup RocketOn: “The Chrome OS seems like just another flavor of Linux to me. Even with the Chrome OS and O3D combined, I don’t see gamers gravitating towards Google’s new OS. Hardcore gamers and virtual world enthusiasts will always choose the very best system to play on, which for the time being is a Mac, Windows PC, or console, depending on the game. For the more casual crowd, I don’t think this will win them over. The primary obstacle is that Google has to get the carriers to subsidize netbooks so they are free with a long-term subscription.

“Also, Google isn’t a hardware company like Apple, so they’ll never pull off a beautifully integrated product like the iPhone. This was made clear by the lackluster Android launch. Google will also face stiff competition in this area from a variety of Linux and Windows netbooks, which will work just fine with Firefox or IE…Maybe, if Google sticks it out, it can gradually gain a dedicated following around Chrome OS in combination with Google’s apps and services, and some of those users may take advantage of gaming on this new platform, but this is way off in the future.”

Infinite Journey image courtesy Large Animal.

15 Responses to “How Will Google Chrome OS Change Gaming?”

  1. Tj Gienger

    The thing everyone needs to realize is that the browser games will work on all browsers, not just Chrome OS, but also chrome for windows/mac, firefox, IE etc.. This is what google does. So when a game company creates a game they only need one implementation to reach a very large variety of people.

    Another thing that I’d like to point out is OnLive, for those that don’t know, you play a game via video and control streaming on a server, so any computer and even iphone is capable of playing high resolution graphics intensive games.

    So this will have a much larger impact that these people are letting on. Like many things google does, the impact will not be noticeable, until it’s in your face:)

  2. What the last game developer said is just plain rude. Google has allot of power behind them and there google phones are already getting higher ratings then the Iphone. Dont believe me google it. As it stands my google phone running doughnut not even eclaire yet the mt3g out preforms my laptop at 3d gaming. If they play there cards right I dont think there will be and issue once everything is all done and said and people give it a shot. If they give it this ability I would gladly get rid of windows in a heartbeat
    As it stands I am typeing from a very early release of Crominium and yes a bit laggy I am running windows at the same time

  3. I know I’m late to the party with this comment, but O3D won’t be the bread and butter of games on Chrome OS, Native Client will (

    And all apps that run on Chrome OS will run on Google Chrome and even Firefox and Safari (with the exception of maybe a few plugins, which are available for Firefox and Safari anyways).

    With the comments and the closed mindset wrapped around Flash it really makes me brush off Kongregate, Metaplace and RocketOn as products that we’re just late to the party.

    Facebook, MySpace and iGoogle will and have already filled in their spots as the “must see” web gaming hubs, especially since they’re not limited to just Flash for gaming (supporting Silverlight, Javascript, Java, Native Client and even non-web apps), neither are they limited to just games (putting them in competition with game consoles and services like Steam in the future).

    and rumor is that XBox Live will also enter the web gaming arena at some point, which will just be another nail in the coffin for these services (they better hope to get bought out).

  4. O3D requires GPU acceleration for delivering good 3D experience. Lack of a GPU in a netbook (which is the immediate focus for the Chrome OS) would force the games written in O3D to use software rendering which would make the games unplayable.
    In general there seems to be lot of hype around the O3D announcement and I don’t see the game developers adopting it. To begin with, there is no protection for either game assets (art work) or the game logic.

  5. Not much of an impact at all. If anything, an increase in web based games. The Chrome OS is going to run on inexpensive netbook/pad type hardware, which will not run games on windows anyway.