It’s easy to dismiss games and game development in general. To check it off as “playing around” with technology (pun intended), rather than serious investments. But if you’re building a technology platform and are not seriously investing into games and game developer ecosystems from the get-go, you’re doing it horribly, horribly wrong.
Let’s even forget for a moment that games are the main revenue driver of most modern platforms (Games account for 75% of iOS App Store revenue). No two content industries – as far as I’m aware – have ever had more influence to the raise and fall of a new platform than games (and porn, but even in 2014, there’s sadly still a weird stigma attached to it).
Games push technology forward and to its limit, always creatively discovering ways to improve themselves further by squeezing everything out of the CPU, GPU and most importantly, the available platform APIs. As result, game developers are often the first to discover platform bottlenecks and missing features, long before anyone else does.
Why am I telling you this? I made Zynga become the first game company to join the W3C in 2012. I pushed for new standards such as screen orientation lock, hit testing, ways of telling the browser how to accelerate certain content and decelerate others, smarter memory management, smarter image handling and plenty of others. While my input was appreciated from the W3C staff, there was rarely any interest or sense of responsibility and urgency from browser vendors and beyond. And that’s the key – it might have been urgent for me as a game developer, but I lived in the future! These technologies simply wouldn’t become relevant to standard web site and app developers until two years later.
They key takeaway here is that these technologies do become relevant for other types of content – just not right away. There’s a dramatic difference between “I don’t need this” and “I don’t need this today“. By helping and investing into a niche of game developers at the forefront of technology, such as with mobile open web games, platform providers (e.g. browser vendors) are able to properly predict and fund the future before anyone else does.