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Preparing for the Unity Web Player and other NPAPI Plug-in Deprecations on Chrome

January 30, 2015ByColin Creitz

A couple of internet browsers recently announced changes that will impact Unity developers, and we wanted to share with you details on these changes as well as how Unity developers can prepare. Starting April 2015, Google announced that it will end general support for Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI) in its Chrome browser, which will make it inaccessible to most users. Mozilla also shared that they would require explicit click-to-play content in plug-ins. Since Unity Web Player is an NPAPI plug-in, these changes are likely going to have a serious impact on its usability.

What's Going to Happen?

Unity responded that they would add a new way to build Web games in Unity version 5, using WebGL and asm.js. This would remove the dependency on having a plug-in installed; games would simply run in any modern browser. An advanced beta of Unity 5 is available, and several games have already been published using its WebGL export mode. The Unity team detailed the situation in this blog post.

Unity Web Player will work for the foreseeable future in Internet Explorer, and in Firefox behind a click-to-play prompt; the Unity team has stated that they will continue to support Web Player with new releases for as long as it continues to make sense.

What Does this Mean for Players and Developers?

Players using a non-Chrome browser can continue playing existing Web Player games in their preferred browser, possibly with a click-through. People playing Web Player games on Chrome will need to be educated about the changes, and possibly encouraged to download or use a browser with NPAPI support.

Facebook is committed to helping explain the situation, and if necessary, guide players to use an alternative browser by sharing messaging on the web pages of Unity Web Player apps. Once we've confirmed that the next build of Chrome no longer supports NPAPI plug-ins, we'll begin showing players a banner telling them about the coming change and suggesting that they prepare to use a browser that will work with Unity Web Player. We’re also preparing to show a message to people who are already running a NPAPI-free browser that suggests a similar course of action. Our goal is to make sure that people playing games are not disrupted or inconvenienced.

The Road Ahead

Unity and the browser manufacturers agree that open Web technology is the future, and to that end we encourage developers to consider building their games using Unity 5's WebGL target. While we understand the pains of switching to a new platform, we anticipate that the challenges will be offset by a lower barrier of entry to gameplay due to no plug-in installation and no security warnings. We’ll continue to give updates as they arise, but in the meantime we strongly suggest developers look towards utilizing Unity 5's WebGL target, especially as Unity 5 approaches general release.