Google launches GameSnack

GameSnacks is an experimental project designed to create games that load and run on low memory devices and slower mobile networks.The project is part of the Area 120 experimental research of Google, and can be seen as a rival to Facebook’s Instant Games, which provides games that can be played directly in the News Feed or in Messenger conversations, on both desktop and on their mobile devices. 

Area 120 is a workshop for Google’s experimental products, with earlier releases including Game Builder, an app for creating games, Advr, an advertising format for VR, personal stylist Tailor, an emoji messenger Supersonic and the YouTube co-watching app UpTime.

Google describes the GameSnacks project’s goal as:

“to make HTML5 games more accessible for phones on any network in the world. GameSnacks games are fast, easy to play, and available on any device that lets you connect to the internet.”

The developers use the example of a typical web game loading on a 1 GB RAM phone on a 3G network, and taking 12 seconds to load. The GameSnacks developers say most visitors to mobile sites leave if a page takes longer than three seconds to load. The games that are part of GameSnacks can load within a few seconds in network conditions slower than 1 Mbps.

The developers achieve this by the old trick of reducing the size of the initially-loaded HTML page, compressing additional assets such as scripts, images, and sounds, and waiting to load them until necessary.

The games are also short and simple and aimed at casual gamers. A game will only last a few minutes, and have rules that can be learned without instructions. Each game supports touch, keyboard, and mouse controls and can be played on Android, iOS, and desktop devices.

The GameSnacks team says they’d like to hear from any HTML5 game developer interested in building fast-loading games, as well as developers of apps that could embed GameSnacks games.

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