Epic Games has decided to team up with Mozilla to port Unreal Engine 3 to the Web as Adobe’s Flash is not finding many takers right now, thanks to instability and lack of native support on many mobile devices. Vladimir Vukicevic, Mozilla’s engineering director and the inventor of WebGL, recently told TechCrunch that Mozilla wants to make the Web a usable platform for modern games.

Late last year, Mozilla started working on using its emscripten compiler to port C and C++ code to asm.js, a strict subset of JavaScript. This allowed the JavaScript code to run at a speed within 2x of native performance, and the latest versions of Firefox's Nightly channel now support these optimisations.

Taking into account the specific complexities and requirements of modern game engines and games, it is necessary to get relatively close to native performance. And Mozilla seems to have achieved that: at the ongoing Game Developers Conference, Mozilla showed off Epic’s well-known Citadel demo and Unreal Tournament running natively in the Firefox browser. Most notably, this implementation doesn't require any plugin to run the games.

According to Vukicevic, porting the Unreal 3 Engine to the web took Epic four days, along with small adjustments. Reportedly, Epic had been working on bringing its game engine to the web, but none of those attempts came close to the demonstration at GDC. The two companies will be releasing an actual demo in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Mozilla’s own BananaBread demo, running on the latest Firefox Nightly, is an indication of what can be expected.

Mozilla’s Games Platform Strategist Martin Best also spoke to TechCrunch and said this latest implementation will also be seen in Firefox for Android and, of course, the brand new Firefox OS. Amazingly, Mozilla expects games to run within 2x of native performance even on the mobile browser. The development team is currently using in-house demos to show this off, but will share the technology with the rest of the world soon.

Best added that Mozilla is in talks with game publishers and developers like ZeptLab, makers of Cut The Rope; Disney and Electronic Arts to bring commercial products to the web.

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