Google has rolled back an update for its Chrome browser after concerns from game developers.
The most recent update, Chrome 66, pauses audio on browser media objects, intended to silence irritating adverts. The browser began with a list of 1,000 websites where Google found that users typically played audio or video with sound. As users continue browsing the web, Chrome updates that list as it learns where you play media and where you don't.
Culling annoying audio and video adverts is a good change towards making web use less frustrating. Unfortunately, this also broke the audio of numerous games hosted online. Developers of browser games collectively called out Google for the change, and they responded.
Google developer advocate Myles Borins confirmed yesterday that the audio pausing policy would be temporarily rolled back. Borins warns that there’s a deadline on re-enabling the functionality, however. Web game developers will need to find ways to update their code by Chrome update 70 at latest.
"The team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers,” product manager John Pallett wrote on the Chrome developer forum. “But in this case we didn't do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers.”
Alongside game developers, Google’s autoplay policy provides another challenge for advertisers online. Earlier this year, Google began blocking adverts from websites it deemed to have too many. Chrome’s business model may rely heavily on web adverts, but developers on the browser seem acutely aware of the quality of life impacts that can result from obnoxious ads.