Google Chrome Update To Mute Annoying Videos Is Breaking Web Games


Managing the web and its many destinations is not an easy thing to do, though it's one that every browser maker has tasked itself with accomplishing. That includes Google and its popular Chrome browser. As it were, one of the things Google recently set out to do was to make the web less annoying by muting some videos that play automatically when visiting a website. Unfortunately, it's had the undesired side effect of breaking millions of browser-based games.

Google introduced the feature as a default option when with Chrome version 66, which it started pushing out three weeks ago. In previous versions, game audio would play either when a page loaded, or after the user pressed the "play" button. However, that functionality has been broken in Chrome 66. Games created using any HTML5 engine just don't play sound, even when a game requires a user to "click to play." That includes games created using Pico-8, GameMaker, Unity, or Phaser.

As one web game developer explained to The Daily Dot, there is a workaround for developers—those click to play methods have to be updated to resume the JavaScript "AudioContext" application programming interface (API). Most existing games don't do this because before Chrome 66 rolled out, there was "little reason" to go that route.

Foddy explains that it's not a difficult workaround, except that many developers might not have the components needed. Web game developers can make their games have sound again if "one, you have access to all the servers the game is hosted on; two, you still have your source code; three, you made the game either using raw JS/HTML or an engine that has been recently updated to respect this new policy (and the updates didn't break your game in some other way); and four, you time to go through all your projects and update them."

That's going to be a daunting list for some web game developers. It's not really an issue for new games that come out, as developers can take the auto-mute behavior into account and code around it. But for existing games, Foddy believes "only a tiny minority" will end up being updated.

Foddy is not the only one concerned. Several game developers have voiced their frustration on social media. Terry Cavanagh, developer of VVVVVV and Super Hexagon, said Chrome 66 "broke" his browser games. "I miss Flash," he added.

We'll have to wait and see if Google issues another update to address existing games on the web.