To gamers who cut their teeth in the early Noughties or around then, it’ll be easy to recall the particular aesthetic that online gaming had. Playing a Flash-based game in a browser, such as on the user generation gaming site, was highly popular – and while the graphics may have been down-market compared to today’s Ultra 4k options, the convenience of having your game accessible alongside your email and your net surfing meant that browser based gaming was highly popular.

You never miss what you don’t have, of course, so back then, these games seemed like the height of sophistication. Now, the decline in the popularity of sites such as Newgrounds and the rise of new forms of gaming – such as the Xbox, VR headsets, and more – have led many to announce the supposed death of browser-based gaming. But is it really that simple? Has browser based-gaming declined – or has its focus simply moved elsewhere?

Yes: VR, consoles and more have usurped its power 

Perhaps the most obvious way that browser-based gaming has declined is through the proliferation of other gaming mediums. The arrival and subsequent entrenched popularity of the console, such as the PlayStation and the Xbox, was maybe the first death knell for the browser, as it meant that people would shift away from computers in favor of other environments. Over time, these devices got more and more powerful – and offered more agility and beauty than a browser on a monitor could ever hope to compete against. Now that VR headsets that offer a fully immersive experience are on the market, this trend away from the computer is only likely to get stronger.

It’s also worth exploring the fact that the term “browser” has also changed, as well as the nature of gaming. Mobile internet is now responsible for a major chunk of online time, and 63.4% of the world’s population is believed to have access to mobile internet. Mobile gaming, however, has not been browser-focused in its development. On the contrary, mobile gaming is largely focused around apps – meaning that browsers are even more obsolete in the latest iteration of game tech. Whether these are apps such as Messenger with in-built gaming functions or simply standalone apps designed for that game alone, there’s a definite shift away from browser-based gaming on the mobile medium.

No: the focus of browser-based gaming has simply evolved and changed

Granted: it’s certainly not the case that people now play browser-based games with wild abandon as they did perhaps ten years ago. The rise in alternative technologies such as consoles and now virtual reality means that the browser’s days as the main hotspot for gaming are over. However, as the popularity of the PA online casino shows, games that are played on browsers haven’t gone totally out of fashion – especially in the realm of online gambing.

Online games are in fact some of the most popular games out there, and they are often played in a common browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer. There are many options available. The value of the online game industry just goes to show how popular it is, and how much worth this largely browser-based genre has: some people have forecast that the online gaming industry will be worth $94.4 billion by 2024, which means that there’s still at least one particularly strong gaming market here for the web browsers to enjoy for a while yet.

The existence of browser-based gaming goes well beyond online games. Simply searching Google for “arcade games” brings up a wide variety of options, including large and popular websites such as Free Web Arcade and Crazy Games – all of which can be played in a browser. The sort of games from well before even the internet age, such as arcade games, now have a retro aesthetic that lend themselves perfectly to the world of browser-based gaming.

In some ways, browser-based gaming has suffered a decline at the hands of mobile gaming, consoles and more. However, announcing the death of browser-based gaming is perhaps a little premature. It’s certainly the case, for example, that online games – many of which are browser-based – remain highly popular, while many of the traditional arcade and other similar games that are played in a browser also demonstrate that this medium is far from dead just yet.


  1. I think they only thing that is dying is the Flash plugin, they’re even discontinuing the use of it in 2020 which could be a problem for many browser based games.

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  2. I think the biggest successor to browser games is now mobile games. People tend to think that mobile games have been competing with portable games (e.g. 3DS, PSP, PSVita, Switch, etc.), and while it’s true to some extent, I think both mobile games and portable games have different communities, different markets, and different outlooks on gameplay. Browser games tend to be quick and simple to play, a way to just get games out there for people to try out and most of the times free-to-play, and mobile games have mainly been following that model, rather than competing with portable games which are on a different level (more complex games, full-price games, and larger development teams). However, portable consoles have been leaning towards the browser and mobile game model, especially with the popularization of indie developers.

    But going back to mobile vs. browser games, Apple did pretty much kill any future for browser games by killing off Flash.

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