Google Chrome's autoplay audio blocker has been messing up web games

Google Fixes Issue That Broke Millions of Web-Based Games in Chrome

"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", acknowledges Google product manager John Pallett.

The tentpole feature in Chrome 66 is a new set of autoplay restrictions aimed at reducing annoying videos that automatically start playing back.

Pallett said that the change will not affect Chrome's silencing of most autoplaying video and audio on the web.

The original muting of the nuisance videos within Chrome was created to remove one of the annoyances that might have pushed users to install adblocking or other software, something Google wants to avoid as advertising is the primary source of the company's revenue. Unfortunately, it has been blocking more than anyone bargained for. This is because their click-to-play approach generally does not resume a Javascript audio interface - something most games never needed to do until Chrome made a decision to press the mute button.

Meanwhile, the implementation delay is created to give "Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features) more time to update their code". So powerful that this chromium.org thread features lots of angry games-site-owners and other folk whose web apps are now less functional thanks to Chrome's changes.

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While this feature certainly seemed like a boon, some users began noting that it's working a bittoowell. Google now plans on re-introducing the restrictions in Chrome 70, but the Chrome team is looking into other options as well.

Still, the auto-muting update still appliesto audio and video HTML tags. Then there's the large bulk of "abandoned" games whose developers may not even be aware that their work is in need of an update or may not have the inclination to make even trivial modifications.

Chrome 66 introduced a new autoplay policy that prevented audio and video from automatically playing in a browser tab.

Google offered no timeframe on when it might again enable the audio blocking capability of Chrome. For now, at least, Google opted for the temporary solution of excluding Web Audio API content from Chrome's autoplay policy.

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