Mozilla and Unity create WebGL version of engine, now plugin-free

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 19, 2014

So, browser plugins of old have to die, that is the stance of Google and to a lesser extent Mozilla. The web is moving towards a plugin-less reality, and while companies that make those decisions are not seeing eye to eye when that will happen and how to push plugin developers into the right direction, it is clear that NNAPI plugins will be a thing of the past in the next couple of years.

When you look at the top list of plugins used by Internet users, you find Adobe Flash at the very top as it is still used by many web games, media sites and applications throughout the web.

But there are others that have millions upon millions of users, and the Unity Plugin is one of them. The plugin for the Unity game development system provides gamers with access to games created on the platform.

It is not only used on the Internet by various game studios that publish web games on gaming service sites such as Kongregate, but also by desktop game developers who use the engine to create games such as Wasteland 2 or Pillars of Eternity.

Right now, if you want to play a game in your browser that uses Unity, you will have to install the plugin in your browser of choice. If you run Google Chrome, this won't be possible anymore later this year when the company shuts off all NNAPI plugins (of which Unity is one).


Mozilla and Unity have created development tools that bring Unity powered games to the Web without the need for plugins. The new engine will make use of WebGL and be released together with Unity 5.0 later this year according to the announcement.

What this means for game developers is, that they can make their games run without requiring the Unity plugin. It is a win-win for everyone in this case. Gamers who want to play games do not have to download and install a plugin the first time they want to do so. Developers lose less customers because some may not want to install a plugin, and Mozilla wins because it moves yet another plugin to the graveyard.

And if you are a Firefox user, you will benefit from Mozilla's asm.js low-level subset of JavaScript which boosts performance significantly.

Here is a game video of the Unity game Dead Trigger 2 running on WebGL:

The new development tools will be made available later this year when Unity 5.0 gets released. Select developers seem to already have preview versions of it, as you can see from the demo video embedded above.

It will take time before developers start to export existing games to WebGL or create new ones right away for it, but it will happen. It is likely that Google's decision to block the Unity plugin later this year will speed up that process significantly.


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  1. ?uNkNoWn-WoRlD-oRdEr? said on January 15, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    I really hope that WebGL will be pushed to the frontiers on commercial development. I really like Google’s idea. But even though they are doing a good thing, they may lose out on the Unity fans (especially facebook games running on Unity). I think it’s time for Google to start collaborating with Unity (using WebGL)

  2. Swapnil said on March 19, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I don’t like Google’s products much, but I like the company as a whole and I have to admit they took web browser speeds to next levels. Now I applaud their decision to stop supporting NPAPI plug-ins. This is a major push to HTML 5. The problem with Adobe Flash Player will continue to trouble HTML5 video for quite some time though, as except Chrome there is no browser supporting both WebM and H.264/H.265.

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