Don't look for id Software's Rage or Bethesda's Skyrim in your browser anytime soon, but it sounds like Google has big time gaming plans for its Chrome platform—plans that already involve running stuff like Xbox Live Arcade game Bastion in Chrome directly.
Google demoed Bastion running in its Chrome browser at a press event last night after working on the technology to make such a feat possible for three years, says CNet, adding that "[Bastion's] gameplay was smooth and...the graphics were highly detailed."
The technology's called "Native Client," or NaCl—an allusion to the periodic symbol for salt, implying per the dictionary definition that it "makes things more interesting"—and it's powerful enough to allow a sophisticated action roleplaying game like Bastion to run in Google's browser today. I mean literally today.
According to Bastion's developer Supergiant Games:
This latest version of Bastion is built to run right in your web browser, using Google’s new Native Client technology. This really is the full Bastion experience, featuring our highly acclaimed 1080p artwork, musical score, reactive narration, and play experience, all built to run fast and smooth just like our Xbox 360 and PC versions. And, much like those versions, you can play through the prologue for free.
You'll need at least a 1.7 GHz dual-core rig, 2GB of memory, 1GB of hard disk space, and a video card that with 512MB memory that supports shader model 2—pretty minimal specs, in other words.
And all that's just for starters. Google apparently used last night's event to announce that Chrome has over 200 million users, and to highlight other upcoming Chrome-based games. Look for IO Interactive's Mini Ninjas soon, for instance, courtesy Final Fantasy publisher Square Enix.