The new Chromebook: perfect for a browser gamer?

One thing that drives me nuts about my new nerdy window-shopping obsession (the new Chromebooks) is that the reviewer of the device will almost always comment how it is not “for gaming.” There are a few reasons this drives me nuts.

1) This is obvious to anyone who knows the slightest about tech specs. But, it is referring mainly to client-based and graphically-intense games like WoW, Call of Duty or browser-based games that utilize fancy engines like Unity.

2) This acknowledgment of the device’s lack of gaming power shows just how ignorant the reviewer is of the browser-based gaming world. Facebook alone hosts thousands of titles — MMORPG and others — that can easily run on the new Chromebook. I have a netbook that is weaker and can run these titles.

3) This lack of knowledge of the browser-based gaming world shows how millions and millions and millions of gamers from titles like RuneScape, Club Penguin, Dungeon Overlord and so many others are ignored by the press all the time. If it’s not Guild Wars 2, it’s not news I guess?

4) This lack of browser-based information (well, they will mention Angry Birds!) sells the device short. Browser-based gaming is likely MORE popular than most client-based gaming combined. I can show you a single browser-based title that boasts tens of millions of players.

As I wrote in a recent column, I realized that despite my recent purchase of a more powerful gaming rig, I still find myself more fascinated by browser-based games. I am not sure if it’s because they often feel to me like a pocket-sized world, thanks to the literal limits of the browser window or because the developers of these titles are often more clever in their design than in most other titles.

Either way, the browser is the way we hit the internet. It is not going away. It might morph but there will always be a window to the web. Games that run inside that window will only grow in popularity, alongside games for mobile devices like tablet apps and phone downloads.

So, would the Chromebook be the perfect device for the games I mostly enjoy? I hope to find out, especially as the prices of the Chromebooks push down into the 200s. Within a few years they will be much more powerful but still cheap. There will be some limitations, but as someone who uses the browser for pretty much everything now, it’s not surprising that actually purchasing a Chromebook means waiting around for one to be available. They have been selling out like hotcakes.

I plan on checking one out at some point, but continue to fitz around with gaming both within the browser on my desktop machine, my 7 inch Nexus 7 tab and my touchscreen netbook. As I do, I find more and more great games that run on almost all of the devices. Even then, I plan on eventually graduating to an all-in-one device like a Chromebook that also allows me to write as well as I can on the desktop. The desktop remains there for streaming games and for when I need to play a more demanding client-based title.

At 250, it’s no surprise that many people want these new Chromebooks. I can imagine educators using them and students grabbing one for quick notes. With more and more of our campuses and public spaces offering free WiFi, the Chromebook might be a perfect device that doers not require constant upgrades or worries over viruses.

We’ll see. Until I find out, I’ll continue to window shop.




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Beau Hindman

I cover games and write, which means that I sit around in my PJs all day, playing games. I love it.