Mozilla unveiled an early version of "Monster Madness Online," a 3-D multiplayer zombie-shooting video game built to run on Web browsers such as Firefox and Chrome.
It's the latest move that could upend the multibillion-dollar video game industry. Web browser makers such as Google and Mozilla have been developing ways to play videos games without a game console: Gamers need only an Internet connection to play them.
Over the last year, Mozilla has been optimizing its Firefox Web browser to support high-quality video games without requiring users to install extra software, and "Monster Madness" is one of the first video games to take advantage of those improvements.
NomNom Games, a subsidiary of Trendy Entertainment, initially created PC and mobile app versions of its game, but it was able to quickly convert Monster Madness to the Web using new software programs being pioneered by Mozilla.
The programs, Emscripten and asm.js, enable developers to take applications they create using other programming languages, such as C and C++, and translate them for use on Web browsers.
"Monster Madness" won't be officially released until May, but an early alpha version was released online Thursday.
Users can play the zombie-shooting multiplayer game on their desktop and laptop by going to the "Monster Madness" website using either Mozilla's Firefox browser, Google Chrome or Opera.
"The HTML5 port of 'Monster Madness' uses only standard Web technologies, and as such will run in any browser supporting the proper standards, leaving browser vendors to compete on performance," Mozilla said in a blog Thursday. "In our tests Firefox runs the game best, but try and compare for yourself!"
For now the game won't work on tablet or smartphone Web browsers, but Trendy Entertainment's chief technology officer, Jeremy Stieglitz, said he expects it will work properly with high-end mobile devices when it is officially released in 2014. That will enable users to play the game against one another in real time regardless of whether they are using a computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet.
Stieglitz said his company decided to make a browser version of "Monster Madness" in order to reach as many users as possible.
"We want to reach a lot more people, and we see the Web as a way to do that," Stieglitz said. "It's the single biggest potential audience that's out there. Everybody has a Web browser."
The alpha version of "Monster Madness" will be free to play. But when the game is officially released in May it will use a so-called freemium model, meaning users can play for free but also have the option to make purchases to upgrade the characters or the game.
"A browser is something that's a quick access point," Stieglitz said. "Thus, having a free game that doesn't require money to play it upfront fits naturally."
Stieglitz said NomNom Games decided to make a zombie-shooting multiplayer action game with rich graphics because the developer really wanted to test the capabilities of Web browers.
"Let's see how well this technology holds up," he said