I think that one of the most surprising movements to happen in 2012 will be the mass development of browser-based MMOs. Already the browser is the launcher of choice for millions and millions of gamers in games like RuneScape, Club Penguin, Battlestar Galactica Online and others, but we have also begun to see engines like Unity be pushed further and further into the development spotlight. HTML5 promises to grow as well, as more and more developers are realizing that the more accessible their game is, the more players they will have.
Not only are the building blocks of browser-based games becoming more widely used, but giants like Google are showing a great interest in using the browser for everything possible. They also have Chromebooks to sell, and what better way to sell them than to offer a selection of games that require no download or plugin?
If you look at the scary trend of data-capping in other countries and through many ISPs, you will quickly see just how much of a role tiny or no-download games will play. As some game clients grow larger and larger, browser-based gaming will guarantee that players can enjoy the same experience -- even graphically -- that they could in a massive client.
Browsers might not be king in 2012, but they'll be a prince. One day soon (I predict in five years) we will look back and giggle at how much space and time we dedicated to massive downloads. 2012 will start to show just how important the browser is to keeping MMO gaming alive.
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