“HTML5 Is An Oncoming Train, But Native App Development Is An Oncoming Rocket Ship”. We can say without doubt that HTML5 will definitely play a big role in the future of mobile gaming, and could potentially be one of its major growth drivers. However I do not think that it will completely replace native apps, at least for the foreseeable future.
It`s very old debate and probably truth is somewhere in between.
There are two obstacles to a widespread adoption of HTML5 as a mass platform for gaming: one is the ecosystem, and the other is the technology itself
The fact is that, right now, only pretty simple HTML5 applications can run well on any browser and platform that supports the standard. However, to run a more complex application such as a game for example a browser should support additional HTML5 libraries and extensions. Right now most tech-intensive games can only run on a recent version of Chrome and on a sufficiently powerful PC
Even more essential, however, is the presence of a fully functioning ecosystem which can be the main force to drive mass adoption of HTML5.
Speaking about the ecosystem I mean that customers will have to be able to discover, play and purchase games in such a way as App Store has it. So for this a few elements are necessary: a store easily accessible and pre-installed on every handset, a 1-click billing solution that will be able to support a wide range of payment methods.
The real question is Apple, who has the strongest native app ecosystem and who is interested in controlling the user experience and therefore keeping its platform closed to a certain extent. We should admit that Apple has a strong advantage, as their ecosystem is so strong and the user experience so universally appreciated and HTML5 should be very persuasive and easy to use to win customers and to overtake and surpass Apple in this sphere.
Finally, it should not be forgotten that creating a game for platforms that have different input interface and screen size isn’t pain-free, as a new control method must be devised and implemented, and new art assets need to be created. The mirage of “build once, play on every device on Earth” can probably remain just that, a mirage.
Currently HTML5 is not yet the best thing in the world, but all this will change rapidly over short time: native apps will be still the dominant ecosystem for games at least in the next two years but HTML5 will start gaining adoption pretty soon, and probably become a viable market around the same timeframe. HTML5 is the way browsers are heading, and they’ll all just get better and better.
And what are your ideas? Will HTML5 eliminate fragmentation and allow developers to create one game for multiple platforms and operating systems and thus be the driving force in mobile gaming?