I’ve covered Unity quite a bit over the past two years, and quite frankly, it’s been nothing but good news. This time it’s more of a mix of good and bad, really. Probably more good than bad, depending on how ya look at it. Anyway, while the end of Web Player is near, browser support for the Unity engine isn’t going anywhere. It’s just… changing. Evolving, one might say?
What I’m referring to is the process of moving away from plugin-based content, like the Unity Web Player, seeing how sooner rather than later, no current browser will support such. Unity developers interested in publishing their creation on the web aren’t left without an alternative however, as WebGL export (currently in preview) will be the go-to in its place. Whether it’s a viable alternative remains to be seen, because as far as I can tell, most still resort to the tried-and-true Web Player.
Chrome abandoned NPAPI support with the release of version 45, and by the end of 2016, Firefox intends to follow suit, meaning two of the most popular current browsers will not be able to run Unity Web Player content. At all. No workarounds, no magical tweaks to get it back. Here’s to hoping developers are going to notice this soon, because recent game jams – not to mention new releases on itch.io, among other – still feature an abundance of Web Player titles. Even worse, few actually feature a downloadable alternative, which is just downright puzzling. Puzzling I say. Puzzling!
They [Unity] are working on a way to get old(er) Web Player content running in browsers without NPAPI support, but I wouldn’t hold my breath as it’s likely a complicated and lengthy process. As such, if you’re working on a Unity game and want to make it playable on the web, I’d strongly recommend using WebGL instead of the soon-to-be-deprecated Web Player, as the latter would likely limit your user base due to a lack of support.
That said… go make some games!