Google Chrome

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.

The bug was introduced in mid-April when Google launched Chrome 66. One of this release's features was its ability to block web pages with auto-playing audio.

While the feature was obviously aimed at web pages with ads and auto-playing videos, it had an unforeseen side-effect of also muting HTML5 and JavaScript-based games.

Some games wouldn't play any audio at all

Not all games were affected the same. For some HTML5 games, users could re-enable audio by interacting with the game's canvas via a click-to-play interaction.

Unfortunately, older games and those that weren't coded with such policy remained irrevocably broken, no matter what Chrome options users tried to modify in their settings sections.

Millions of games affected

According to browser game developers who spoke with The Daily Dot last week, games built using HTML5 game engines like Pico-8, GameMaker, Unity, and Phaser, were affected. They estimated the number of impacted games to "probably millions."

With today's release of Chrome for Desktop v66.0.3359.181, Google has now fixed this issue, but only temporarily. Bleeping Computer has reached out to Google for more details on what actually changed, and a spokesperson pointed us to a comment made by one of the Chrome engineers in a bug report.

We've updated Chrome 66 to temporarily remove the autoplay policy for the Web Audio API. This change does not affect most media playback on the web, as the autoplay policy will remain in effect for < video > and < audio >.

We’re doing this to give Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features) more time to update their code. The team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers, 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 policy will be re-applied to the Web Audio API in Chrome 70 (October). Developers should update their code based on the recommendations at: https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2017/09/autoplay-policy-changes#webaudio

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