Blog Post

This offline video game with Xbox controller support shows Chrome OS isn’t “just a browser”

I expect we’ll hear much more about Chrome OS(s goog) apps next week at the Google I/O developer event. Some developers aren’t waiting to move forward with apps for Chrome OS, however, and that’s a good thing. Although it had humble beginnings as a browser-based interface on a prototype laptop in 2010, Google’s Chrome OS is poised to expand beyond the browser with true apps of its own.

Take this game in the Chrome Web Store, for example. It’s called Cracking Sands Racing and comes from Polarbit, which has already released the game for iOS(s aapl) and Android. That tells me it’s basically a port of the mobile version. Plus the 533 MB download and offline support verify this is an app; not a game that’s being powered by the cloud. Here’s a video of the gameplay, which is exactly what the game looks like on my Pixel:

I downloaded Cracking Sands to my Chromebook Pixel, turned off the laptop’s Wi-Fi radio, plugged in a wired Xbox 360(s msft) controller and had a ball with this.

It’s no rival to current high-end console games, of course, but it’s fun and can be placed on a Chromebook even without an internet connection. And since the game originated on mobile devices with touchscreens, I can even play it using the Pixel’s touchscreen, although I prefer using a controller.

The point here is this: Google has been working on its Packaged Apps and Native Client support for some time and I think this effort will be highly visible next week at Google I/O.

Instead of touting Chrome OS solely as a fast web experience with some web apps and extensions, I suspect Chrome OS will be shown as a true desktop operating system alternative. Developers are starting to jump on board, although I’d like to hear more from Google just how many are interested. As a full-time Chromebook user, I can’t wait to see what apps end up on the improved Chrome OS platform.

11 Responses to “This offline video game with Xbox controller support shows Chrome OS isn’t “just a browser””

  1. Adam Greenblum

    I agree that you will see more developers taking advantage of Google’s Native Client (NaCl) suppport. One such example is Ericom AccessToGo for Chrome, an RDP client which enables easy and fast access to Windows applications and desktops on any RDP host, including virtual desktops, Microsoft RDS (Terminal Services) and physical PCs. AccessToGo works on Chromebooks (Chrome OS) as well as Chrome browsers running on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux devices. And there’s no server-side client required.

    AccessToGo is available on the Google Chrome Web Store.

    Click here for more info:

    Please note that I work for Ericom

  2. I think serious marketing of Chromebooks will begin only when Portable Native Client is released for general use. So far Google has only been selling Chromebooks in US and UK and only in a limited number of retail outlets. It was only last October that they started looking seriously at specification and pricing for the consumer market. Before then Chromebooks were priced and specified for the institutional education market.

    As one technology after another falls into place, Portable Native Client is one of the last remaining pieces of the jigsaw to support full replacement of the Windows desktop in all use cases to be implemented. Hopefully it will come in the third quarter of this year. After this, all we need for Chromebooks (and Chrome browsers running on other OSes) to be a complete replacement for Windows PCs/laptops and Macbooks, is the apps.

  3. Mark D

    Chrome apps are a file type, and saying that Chrome can only open music is ridiculous. Do you expect executables to be able to be installed on Chrome OS? This would make Chrome OS as insecure as Windows and nobody wants that.

  4. ChromeOS doesn’t have the capability to actually run/open any file types other than music. What you are mistaking for a locally-run game is actually something that saves it’s cache file and page info onto the computer (which ChromeOS obviously has to be able to read, because it’s a web browser) and runs as an offline web page. Google’s apps can do this too, so it’s not really that special.

    • Josh, what are you taking about? These are apps, they open outside the browser, they are designed to run offline by default. How many webpages do you know that you can just plug an Xbox controller in and it works?

    • Mark D

      Josh, how many webpages do you know that can take an Xbox controller with no plug in on Mac and chrome os? These are apps that are designed to run offline first webpages aren’t designed that way.

    • TanookiTravis

      Playing a game offline is new to Chrome OS, no matter how the science behind it explains the whole thing.

      Also, be careful with that slice of pizza in your mouth, it’s not cool yet.

    • joemarini

      No, that is not correct. This is in fact a locally-run game written in C using a technology called Native Client that is embedded in the browser.

      Chrome Packaged Apps are about building native apps that run outside the browser using HTML5 technologies.

      • Native Client and Packaged Apps are two separate things.

        Native Client is a way of using machine code in place of Javascript – both run locally. Javascript is part of the HTML 5 spec. Native Client is a Google specific open sourced enhancement which isn’t part of the HTML 5 spec (yet).

        Packaged Apps are about where the code comes from. In the case of web apps, the code comes from the Internet. In packaged apps the code comes from a local store which is installed (and updated) from the Internet.

  5. So exciting to see the web moving this way, I don’t think that gaming should always be online and this is a very important step.

  6. Benjamin Beck

    That is very nice. I love to see the improvement and I really hope to try out some of that soon…just need to find (or buy) a controller.