Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online built with Unity

June 30th, 2009 by Ben

About a month ago, EA Sports announced that it was foregoing a PC version of Tiger Woods Golf this year in favor of a full-featured, browser-based game, Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online. There are more details on the Tiger Woods PGA Tour blog.

Why is this a big deal? EA is using Unity as the front-end engine for the game! Not only is this a huge deal for the good folks at Unity Technologies — since there are likely to be ridiculous numbers of people playing this game — it’s potentially a giant leap for browser-based gaming.

Browser-based gaming has historically been dominated by Flash and Shockwave games of the casual variety. Quake Live and Cartoon Network’s Fusion Fall (which also uses Unity) brought us a browser-based MMO, but I don’t know of many more large-scale, 3D games that operate within a web browser.

According to EA, Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online was born when the company realized that sales of the PC version of Tiger Woods Golf were lagging and that they could reach potentially millions more people by making the game web-based. My guess is they also realized Unity would give them a way to present a graphically rich game within a browser. It also means no more platform compatibility issues, thanks to the Unity web player plugin.

It’s not clear yet how EA is going to make money from the game. My guess is it will be subscription-based, which may cause a lot of gamers to balk. They might pay anyway, though, if the game is regularly updated and enhanced. Other possibilities include an ad-supported model or a one-time fee to play. The one-time fee option seems unlikely to me, considering that EA has left off any sort of numerical identifier like “10″ or “09.”

The cynic in me thinks the people at EA may be saying, “Hey, most folks pay for a new Tiger Woods game every year anyway, so charging a subscription fee for TW PGA Tour Online is the same thing, right?”

I have signed up for the beta test of Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online, so we’ll see if my name gets called (EA, I would be a great beta tester, I promise!). I’ll report back if I can. Nevertheless, if this game catches on, not only could EA start releasing more big-budget browser games, other major developers might jump on the bandwagon.

Who knows, in a few years, we might be looking at web browsers as a primary way to play on the PC.

5 Responses to “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online built with Unity”

  1. Landon Says:

    Check out http://www.gaikai.com if you want to see a browser based gaming cloud service for existing and future games.
    I’m a big fan of cutting out the middle man(RIAA, MPAA, Publishers,…) by delivering goods straight to the people and browser based gaming seems like the natural evolution of using online activation to prevent piracy. I hope it doesn’t (d)evolve into another way to get into your pockets with micro-transactions or selling it to you for the same price as a boxed copy.

  2. poopa Says:

    When’s Cornhole Pro going to be playable on my Palm Pre?

  3. Ben Says:

    Oh, you went with the Pre, did you? I haven’t looked into app development for it, but my current tools really only let me develop easily for the iPhone, PCs, and web browsers. Who knows where things will go in the future, though.

  4. poopa Says:

    http://www.popsci.com/entertainment-amp-gaming/article/2009-06/fun-all

  5. Ben Says:

    @Landon, @poopa – Guess it was only a matter of time before cloud-based gaming came along. Looks like both the companies you mentioned have similar approaches.

    Reminds me of remote desktop computing. Of course, with all the trouble I have with image quality on my streaming Netflix movies, I can’t help but wonder how good the image quality will really be, and how responsive the controls will be.

    As internet connection speeds continue to go up, this concept could be a game-changer. Either way you look at it, we’re going to be seeing a lot more games delivered via a web browser in the next couple years.

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