Google Chrome no longer breaks Web games, but the fix won't last

Stephen Shankland  CNET

To correct that, Google said Tuesday it's temporarily removing the autoplay policy for the Web Audio API from Chrome 66.

Pallett urged developers to prepare for Chrome 70 by following its autoplay instructions for the Web Audio API.

Google scaled back a new auto-play policy in the latest version of its Chrome web browser, meant to stop unwanted video ads with sound from serving up and playing without notice.

"We're doing this to give Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features) more time to update their code", explains Google product manager John Pallett in a post.

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The Chrome team admits that it "didn't do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers using the Web Audio API".

Google released yesterday a Chrome update that temporarily fixed a bug that broke millions of web-based games, some of which couldn't play audio at all, despite whatever tricks and configs users tried.

This is, apparently, reasonably easy to do; however, some users have complained that, even with several months to act, not every game, art project, or whatever else will be updated. This shouldn't affect most audio and videos (included in the audio and video HTML tags), which will continue to be auto-muted, but should ensure the accidentally affected web components are working correctly. Users and developers have listed dozens of web games and audio sites that were broken after Chrome 66. Now, automatic mute won't apply to anything using the Web Audio API until Chrome 70, which scheduled for release in October.

That's not a very useful solution for developers who don't have access to the original code used to make legacy content, though, or those who can no longer update that code on the original servers hosting their work. The browser began with a list of 1,000 websites where Google found that users typically played audio or video with sound. Having that kind of status quo failsafe in place could easily lessen the motivation to work out those "non-trivial user interface challenges" in a timely manner. Chrome had started to block audio and video that automatically played on certain websites.

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