The MMO Runescape 3 will be abandoning the Java of its forbears in favor of HTML5.
Jagex was a pioneer in browser games, but with the Java userbase slowly shrinking, Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard told Gamasutra he was worried his company would be left behind.
"The more we looked at HTML5, we saw it as the future language," he said.
“HTML5 gives us an improved in-game performance with almost no loading time, no loading bars, far better drawing distances, and a rich and vibrant feel thanks to effects like improved lighting, softer shadows and reflective water,” Runescape 3 design director Mark Ogilvie told Forbes.
“This technology helps bring alive the narrative of the game and provides a more immersive experience for players, whether it’s the textures that bring sea monsters to life or the details in the water at beach parties or while fishing.”
Though Jagex is convinced HTML5 is the right answer, it looked at other options, and there wasn’t an obvious solution.
"There needed to be a move, but there were no clear answers as to where," said Gerhard.
"Flash doesn’t have the power. Microsoft’s got something interesting with Silverlight, but it’s only on Internet Explorer and there are no standards there. We could deploy our own custom plug-in, but then we’d see a cut on the install base."
Even HTML5 was by no means an ideal solution, as the language is still a work in progress.
"It’s premature, obviously, and early adopters are usually the guinea pigs who are experimented on and suffer," Gerhard conceded.
"We had our own board say to us, ‘We spent some time with the Google team – they had King.com in for six months and they said it couldn’t be done. So you guys are wasting time.’ And we said, ‘No no, we’ve done it.’ And they said, ‘Oh! We should probably talk to Google then!’"
Jagex has talked to Google, which led to a number of HTML5 releases.
Mozilla is also helping to make sure its Firefox browser is better suited to games.
Another benefit of moving to HTML5 is the cross-platform capabilities, and Gerhard says Jagex is taking advantage of this by expanding to mobile devices and smart TVs, hopefully by Q4 this year.