Nobody likes when videos automatically play on a website, but when Google rolled out a fix to this problem last week, it broke innumerable web-based games by inadvertently disabling their ability to play sound. The change drew the ire of countless game developers, angry at the prospect of having to fix their games, and despair at the possibility countless web-based games, created and produced on the open web, would never be fixed, essentially erasing them from Internet culture forever.
Google’s response to the uproar? Delaying the “fix.”
“Thank you everyone for the examples,” said a spokesperson in a response to a support thread, where various developers were weighing, “they were helpful to our investigation.”
Chrome has been rolled back, temporarily reinstating the old way the browser worked. It’s still capable of addressing autoplaying videos (and audio), but Google still intends to roll out the same change that broke things. The difference is developers have time to patch.
“The team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers,” continued the spokesperson, “but in this case we didn’t do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers using the Web Audio API.”
The update will now roll out in October.
Google said it’s “exploring options” and will “post more detailed thoughts” in the future, but unless the company is radically changing its approach, the problem will still face games.
“These changes are not in the spirit of a free and open web, as Google controls the formula which decides which sites will be affected and which will not,” wrote one developer in response. “The primary job of a web browser is to support web standards. As it stands, Chrome is changing itself to *not* support web standards across certain blurry and arbitrary lines.”
“Unfortunately, the great majority of existing work will not be updated by October, or ever, and so we still face the effective cultural erasure of those works in October,” added QWOP and Getting Over It designer Bennett Foddy in another comment. “You guys definitely have the power to break everyone's work, should you wish to exercise that power, but you do not have the power to make people add workarounds to code that they are not able to alter. Nobody has that power.”
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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/nekb3w/chrome-fixes-the-web-games-it-broke-until-it-breaks-them-again-in-october