Why Haven't 3D Web Games Reached the Scale of Runescape Despite Advanced Web Tech?

Hello all,

Over the years, we’ve witnessed significant advancements in web technologies. With the rise of WebAssembly and the evolution of libraries like BabylonJS, the potential to create immersive and complex 3D web games has never been higher. Yet, it’s puzzling why we haven’t seen a web game on the scale of something like Runescape emerge.

Is it a matter of technology not being there yet? Or perhaps market dynamics and player preferences? Maybe it’s development challenges specific to the web environment?

I’m eager to hear your thoughts and insights on why 3D web gaming hasn’t fully realized its potential despite the available tech advancements.

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I allowed myself to move your topic to the Off topic category. This is the place where we can discuss high- or low-level topics. With an open-mind, free speach and everything that makes the spirit of BJS.

With that said, I think this is a very interesting topic to discuss :smiley: I will give you my opinion (my opinion only). I believe there are a number of things for this. I believe it’s not just related to tech or marketing or finance; It’s an overall thing. As you say ‘market dynamics’. What triggers ‘market dynamics’? Hard to say. If I would have the answer that fits-all, I would be a very wealthy person today :wink: :money_mouth_face: Look at things like social-media, climate change awereness, veganism… All these things have grown and transformed the society within roughly a decade or a generation. Looking back at it, at some point there’s been a switch that increased growth exponentially. Same goes for electric vehicles. The base of the tech was here 20 years ago but the market, the people and the mindset/media/ambassadors weren’t ready for a bold change.

Being a pioneer is not always a good thing if you cannot build-up with patience and wait for the right time. What about VR? Will it ever take the place we thought it would take? Likely, I would say… When? I have no faen clue :thinking: Back to our topic… What hinders the growth of webGL or webGPU over native engines/apps? Well, finance and business, of course.

An open-engine is still today considered a risk by most editors/investors. If someone simply copies your success-game or app from an open-engine, there’s not much even your army of extremely well-paid legists and advocates can do to counter this. And being built on a native or open-engine, making an AA or AAA game today is a HUGE investment (and therefor, a huge risk). All the rest is a believe, secondary. Whatever you create, you need to do with the resources available. And find a balance beween making the best use of these resources and create innovation and the WoW factor that comes with all successful project.

Of course, as I said, my opinion only. And meanwhile, I shall wish you a great day :sunglasses:

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Moving to the off-topic section makes sense; I wasn’t sure where to put this post. Also, I agree with you, and your points are all valid. I’m just curious about when this platform will shine and we’ll see successful big-ish games.

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I suppose we are working on it. :sweat_smile: And you shall become part of it!
With every new ambassador, we are gaining influence and building strength. :mechanical_arm:
The quality and scope of the projects created with BJS is constantly growing. Actually, growing fast over a short time and when you relate this with the resources available (for the Team and most community advocates), I think the results are pretty amazing.
I, personally, have high hopes for BJS in the future. When will ‘the switch’ happen just exactly and who will help trigger it?… I don’t know. But I have faith in the Team and community and will continue to push until it happens :stuck_out_tongue:


because you can just embed v8 into your engine as a scripting language and not deal with chrome’s busllshit. the majority of games use cef/qt for their gui and javascript/lua to manipulate the dom. also, runescape used java – chrome removed that and replaced it with a shittier vm (wasm).


Yet another reason to push the BJS GUI, if you ask me. The only reason why teams in biz use (are forced to use) DOM is because of the fancy UX. Read ‘the marketing definition of UX’ which is basically based on collecting useless personal information about pretending CX; Where (believe me) the digital and (pseudo)marketing-excellence teams don’t know the shit what use they can make of this lead capture and data-collection. In any case, it’s got nothing to do with UX (as in user-experience) and it’s got nothing to do with CX or CE (as in customer experience, the real one).

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I think the web platform is more than capable technically, Babylon.js proves that and continues to push the envelope.

Part of the issue I think is perception. The historical perception of web games (3D or not) is free, cheap or ad supported, not commercial AA or AAA level. This perception applies equally to developers and gamers. Developers often feel they need to use Unity, Unreal, Godot or even roll their own engine, to be taken seriously as developers or keep up with the competition. And gamers often don’t equate online web games with commercial games, expecting them to be free despite the quality, yet they’re happy to drop a few dollars on crap games published on Steam.

However it’s possible to wrap web games using Electron, Capacitor or the like to publish on the Steam juggernaut, so I’d assume if a web game were polished, performant, fun and available on Steam, gamers won’t even realise or care that it was developed with web tech. Wasn’t there one of the popular Tycoon games made with web tech?

Another historical factor I reckon is that a lot of game developers first learn C/C++ whereas I think many people (myself included) who didn’t start out as game developers gravitate to Babylon.js because web technologies like HTML, JS/TS, CSS, WebGL etc better match their existing skills, experience, interests and comfort levels.

I don’t see this situation as a problem. Each to their own - different options for different people. Diversity and choice are great!


You can create quality 3D web games using available resources; it’s all about how you utilize them. Of course, you can harness more power using engines like Unity and Unreal. These engines offer a quicker start, especially with their expansive marketplaces and impressive assets available for download.

For studios, I believe it’s easier to secure resources, both in terms of manpower and assets, when using established engines like Unity and Unreal.

As an indie game developer, I have a wider array of choices. I find BabylonJS to be a great fit because it provides instant access for players to test my game. This allows me to reach a larger audience during the development phase and receive valuable feedback.

I’m skeptical that many would have played my game if they had to go through the hassle of downloading and installing it just to try it out.

That’s my perspective.

That said, I am super excited for when WebGPU is more widely supported in browsers and the drivers for WebGPU have matured. It’s going to be interesting to see what comes from that. :slight_smile:

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I think there’s a lot of truth to what you said.

I also believe that empowering GUI that is easy for both designers and developers to use is what makes or breaks a technology.

A personal antidote;
How do I have contributed to two open-source projects both trying to re-create the same game (Space Station 13). One of them was built off its own technology using C-sharp and XML as the GUI framework. The other one was Unity.

The Unity one is having a much harder time getting development momentum, I believe a part of that is, making GUI for it is a pain, you have to use a weird wysiwyg editor and there’s no real “standard” so UI fluctuates wildly between different developers. Unity’s “default GUI” is not fit for purpose for any game so even basic ui requires you to define your own rules and styles.

Meanwhile the project that uses XML has an extremely standardized way to quickly spin up consistent UI so devs can just focus on getting their work done and the UI doesn’t suffer. And that project has great development moment.

Again just a personal antidote but I really think developers having a GUI framework that “just works” really helps all developers.

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I don’t think 3D web games can achieve what the non-web ones are able to do. For example, these are the strengths of Unity and Unreal games:

  • Monetization: It’s relatively easy to integrate in-app purchases into them

  • Performance: Huge open world in Unity games with DOTS technology and Unreal games

  • Visual: Unreal Engine’s Nanite and Lumen technology to create AAA game visual for medium-end devices

  • Development: Advanced WYSIWYG editor with animation and visual effects tools

Maybe some web game developers can tell us how to do those with Babylon.js.

It’s just not how gaming industry, or more general, entertainment industry works. They seek to control intellectual property. But once it’s on the web, and in the browser cache, it’s out of their control.
Or that’s how their lawyers perceive it :slight_smile:
Then, if you have a careful look at licenses for different game-making tools, you’ll see that you can’t publish your stuff on the web. Things like, you can bundle and distribute this content with your game that doesn’t explicitly prohibit but does not allow publishing on the web either. Some others explicitly prohibit publishing.
So that’s tools; then there’s investors. You want money for your project, you have to sign the agreement that clearly and explicitly states that you are exclusive owner of all IP.
Then there’s workers, they all have to sign that all IP they made during the duration of the contract, in or out of working hours, paid for or for free, belongs to the owner of their soul :slight_smile:
And so on, but all together, write off the web. Because web is all about sharing, the exact opposite of control.
Web or not, big projects require big work that requires big investments, and web games are much less like to attract any because of all this IP mess. So all that we can expect on the web are indie games, i.e. developed without any major publishers. Like Runescape :slight_smile:


I understand your points, which are valid when discussing publishing games on the web. However, when it comes to art, anyone with 3D skills can replicate models, so assets might not hold as much value.

In terms of IP, the real value likely lies in the source code, where the magic unfolds.

This can be encrypted or transpiled into a WASM module, allowing us to maintain it in binary format, similar to native games on our computers. So, studios could potentially navigate this IP issue, right?

I believe the web is an excellent platform for reaching users and might be underrated currently.

I totally agree. Guess I said it already (with my words :face_with_hand_over_mouth:). Not that I like it but that’s just the way it is. Entertainment is an industry and has become a huge industry. Only ‘the triggers’ can change the market dynamic. Of course, as always, my opinion only.

Well, I’m no game dev (not even a dev :face_with_hand_over_mouth:) but I also don’t think this is a question for devs or engs (sorry). What I can say, with my small knowledge as a PM and artDir is:

I have to disagree here. Yes, there’s no UX (the marketing definition of UX) in the BJS GUI. And as far as I know, there won’t be (hopefully) or else, you’ll find me in the way :grin: Yet, for whatever ‘convenience’ UX features are added to a 3D engine, it will never satisfy the AA or AAA editors. Not to mention that the marketing teams are very ‘versatile’ and change providers and systems for data collection every now and then. There’s a good reason why the big editors and studio have their own layer of fancy launcher with data capture, processed to whatever information bus. Personally, as a gamer, I’d like to vomit on most of these, how they are done and what they do. But, despite for all the claims from gamers/customers (and there are many), biz and marketing just doesn’t want to hear about it. :unamused:At least, not today.

Yes. But then, we should agree that only a very small portion of games are open world and require this level of tech. And then (personal opinion), if it’s for making the n-version of FarCry or Assasin’s Creed with an absolute absence of creativity and quality in improving the gameplay and story telling, these guys can keep their fancy tech-demo games for some other brainless gamer :zipper_mouth_face:

SaA. And, as for the ‘medium-end’ devices, it depends on where you set the limit. Downloading a fancy 150GB game package containing for 70% textures that will never show on my rig before the next decade isn’t really a fun experience. Same as the need for a 6 or 8GB GPU to (not) show these textures. I thought we were in need of saving resources for the planet :thinking:. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to some of the actors of the digital and the gaming industry :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Ok, this one is more of a dev thingy. I (as a designer) would take the editor. But from the devs and engs I know, most prefer to work it through code. I think something as the GUI Editor or NME are good tools that can be used by devs. But aside from that, I’m not a big fan of the florishing ‘editors’ for all aspects of dev. But then, as I said, I will leave this for the others to comment and share their thoughts.

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@ertugrulcetin you are right, but lawyers yet need to figure that out :wink:
Epic games may be first of big names to take that position, as they purchased sketchfab. Still, they don’t seem to publish any web games themselves, at least not yet.

Perhaps what is better to ask is , why should they? What are the benefits?

If a company can deliver games to users on some other technology , using the skillsets of their devs and it works and they make money , why would they switch? There is no reason to switch then.

End users dont care what their games are built with either. Also any end user who is a gamer and would be considered the target market of your web game , is already a gamer with a capable device and probably uses most gaming platforms. So they also dont have any reason to have to go look for games on the web. Everything is at their fingertips already.

Perhaps construct a list of Pro’s and Con’s as you see it and then look at your question again from that point of view.

If you have not seen it and are asking about it , be sure to know that people who care to earn money from making games , the big players , would have also considered all options and would also always be looking to move to where it makes sense to maximize profits - in a nutshell - if its not being done by them , it means there are better options and they are using those.

That doesnt mean there is no potential , there might be , im just saying that stating that the tech is capable enough is not a reason in and of itself to use it.

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My wife and I created an indie games company this year and we made our website with BabylonJS. So why don’t we make web games then? Several reasons:

  1. When selling games, Steam provides an unparalleled marketplace. If we were to make web games, we’d have to do a whole lot more marketing.
  2. Steam and other platforms also take care of the payment part of game sales. I was in the payment industry before and dealing with invoicing, taxes and payment fraud was not fun. Integrating ancient APIs for payment processing is also less than enjoyable.
  3. Performance. WebGL/WebGPU is nice, but even for our website we had to do a LOT of optimization and it doesn’t look near Unreal Engine quality. Web browsers run on all sorts of devices and people have different expectations when visiting a website than when playing on a desktop application. I personally see more laggy 3D web projects than non-laggy ones, even on a high end computer. :frowning:
  4. User expectations. People on mobile devices expect their games to be in a mobile marketplace, desktop players expect their games to be on Steam/Epic Games Store/etc. They don’t want the inconvenience of having to type in a web address, log in separately, provide their payment details, etc. just to play a game.

So, it doesn’t work for us as an indie. Would it work for something huge like, say, Roblox? Maybe. But then again, observing the younger generation, point 4 similarly applies there, they just use the App Store/Play Store to get their games.

We will be using Babylon for more web-based 3D stuff, but not for a full game. As much as I like the web (spent my entire career in or around it), there is no reason for us to do so.


+1 i have even experienced some young people not long ago, being confused that a game was not a steam, because Steam is the way you play games. :joy:

And i’ll add that you have loading times aswell,
if you’re creating a large open world game with a multitude different of assets,
and you want high quality, fancy or realistic looking graphics?
you’ll be at 5/10/15 minutes loading time very fast, even with lazy loading only the assets you need per scene.
remember that some major releases today are easily 100gb+ in total !

So it just won’t work for those games, the performance would also be bricked.
Maybe in the future we’ll see something huge :slight_smile:

You can totally make a game like runescape in webGL/webGPU,
The only problem is that, it’s my belief, that the people that play runescape today, do it because they played it as a kid or teen, the kids that play it probably have parents or older siblings that play(ed) it.
Nostalgia is the reason it’s still profitable to keep running.

But then again, roblox is a thing, i never understood that either. so i could be wrong here :slight_smile:

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Yup. Can’t agree more.

Agreed. Hard to make without valve and the 3 decades experience they have with game distribution.
Many have tried. All have failed (in my opinion)