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How PWAs Are Being Applied in Gaming

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Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs, have been all the buzz in the tech community over the past couple of years. As smartphone use has increased and users have slowly, but unmistakably, begun to migrate from “mobile-first” to “mobile-only,”. PWAs have been hailed as the perfect hybrid, combining the best of native mobile apps and web-based apps.

The main focus to date has been on business applications, and how companies can use PWAs to deliver an enhanced customer experience or to improve workplace efficiencies. That’s all fair enough, but the same principles apply to other types of websites, businesses, and apps.

Games people play

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When you keep in mind that one in four of all the mobile apps downloaded is a game, this is clearly an area in which PWAs could have a major impact. To understand how we need to take a step back and consider what a PWA really is. A PWA looks from the user perspective like any other app, but it is created using web technologies like JavaScript such that it can reside on the user’s operating system and will work offline.

So, what does this mean for the user? Well, there’s no need to visit an app store and go through the laborious process of authentication and download. The user simply visits the website, hits the “add to home screen” button, and captures what is, in effect, an offline.

iPhone Home Screen
Credit: @davidgrdm | Unsplash

Developing technology 

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Let’s be clear: PWAs are not about rendering Google Play and the app store obsolete. A conventional mobile app is still the way to go for complex games involving vast amounts of processing power and super-realistic graphics, such as Fortnite or Real Racing 3.

However, the truth is that many of the most popular games are relatively simple. Think Words with Friends, for example. It’s a game you could happily run on a 30-year-old 8-bit machine if you particularly wanted to, and is exactly the kind of experience that can be enhanced by a PWA.  

We’ll leave Zynga to ponder that point, but other developers are making hay in the meantime. Bubble Pairs, Tetra (an evolution of Tetris) and Tower Game are three games that have become classics and are played by millions around the world and have made the leap to PWAs. These are not games that you’ll see at a forthcoming eSport convention. However, they are titles that people will still be playing years from now when DOTA 2 and League of Legends have been consigned to the history books.  

Starting with these simple, basic but hugely popular games also gives PWAs a solid grounding. As the technology develops over the next two to three years, expect to see steadily more complex games ported across to PWAs. 

version of the online content. Hit the shortcut button from the home screen and you are straight into the game, just as you would be with a conventional mobile app.  

PWA Casinos – a special case 

When there’s any sort of technological innovation in the wind, one particular gaming genre is never far away from the action. The iGaming sector is immensely competitive, with hundreds of platforms vying for the same players.

Any new tech that could provide a competitive edge, or even just something a little different, will be eagerly explored. As a result, PWA functionality is becoming something of a craze in online casinos, especially in the relatively newer sites, that use cutting edge technology as a way to differentiate themselves from the more established casino businesses.  

The benefits of this type of gaming are self-evident. The games are available 24/7, load times are less than three seconds, and the games will run as normal on even the patchiest internet connection. It eliminates that terrible fear of suddenly becoming disconnected from the game, just as you were hitting the jackpot on the reels! There is also the fact that casino gamers tend to hop from desktop to mobile. PWAs make this a breeze, another reason why this technology is such a good fit for the iGaming niche.

Are PWAs the future? 

Native apps have a number of inherent shortcomings. They take time and aggravation to install, they use up precious space on your device and, most crucially from a business perspective, they are not searchable. PWAs address these disadvantages at a single stroke. However, it is premature to suggest that this means they will be completely replacing native apps.  

That particular moment is still likely to be some years away. We expect a continuing shift to PWAs for inherently simple games, such as our casino examples or those ever-popular word games. Business apps are likely to go the same way, leaving the app stores focusing on the more complex games, which are the types of apps that really belong there. 

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