Gaming is a billion dollar business whether it be console, computer, or social platforms. One of the biggest usages of Facebook is for the games available. Now Google+ has released their games platform as of a few weeks ago. While very popular, these games are flat. There is only so much you can do, for now.
For over a year now, Google has been promoting their Native Client (or NaCl). NaCl is a technology that will allow developers to run native C and C++ code inside the browser. Google announced support for Native Client on the Beta channel of Chrome. As of right now, Native Client has APIs for 2D graphics, stereo audio, URL fetching and sandboxed local file access (File API) among others. Many more APIs are coming soon–like hardware accelerated 3D graphics (OpenGL), fullscreen mode and networking (WebSockets and peer-to-peer connections).
Native Client apps use Pepper, a set of interfaces that provide C and C++ bindings to the capabilities of HTML5. As a result, developers can now leverage their native code libraries and expertise to deliver portable, high performance web apps.
While NaCl is an open source project, it has been heavily driven by Google. On top of much of the work on NaCl has been done by Google, they’ve also been the heavy contributor on the Pepper Plugin API (PPAPI), which is an evolution of the Netscape Plugin API (NPAPI), tech. that most current web browsers use (except Internet Explorer, they have their own technology, of course). PPAPI offers better performance than NPAPI, which is key to making Native Client work.
This will be part of the next generation of gaming. That is, if developers take advantage of Native Client. Intensive code will now be able to be run on a local machine (with native code) while being accessed in real-time by the browser. This should lead to better web-based gaming, media, etc.
So how does Native Client fit into the whole Google+ Games strategy? Well for one, we’ll be able to get rid of those annoying, 2D, static, Flash games that plague the social gaming scene. NaCl will allow developers to build web games that are much more than just a 2D drawing with a bunch of letters and numbers on top of it. This is how games on Google+ will look in the near future. We’ll see if Facebook can keep up.