More popular games coming to a browser near you

Browser-based games are getting more sophisticated. So at what point do consoles fall by the wayside?

Several announcements today further cemented the fact that the Web browser is the new game console.

Quake in your browser
Quake in your browser Quake Live

"Quake Live" will enter public beta on February 24, offering players a stripped-down version of the full game. (Side note: interesting use of social-media tools Twitter and Facebook to promote the launch.)

Square Enix announced a deal to offer some of its games on Steam's Valve platform.The first Square Enix game to be available to Steam users will be the Unreal Engine 3-powered role-playing game, "The Last Remnant." It will release on Steam on April 9, days after the PC version arrives at retail.

InstantAction announced the formal launch of its platform that enables 3D games in Web browsers. The site will have nine games that are available for free at the launch, with six more games coming soon.

Venture Beat outlines the benefits behind browser-based games:

The benefits of running a game in a browser are plentiful. Since players have to log in, their identities can be verified, eliminating game piracy. The company has free games now, supported by advertising. Games can be distributed digitally, bypassing retail. And players can access their games from any location, since all they have to do is log into the site from a browser on a PC or a Mac. The games can also be improved without requiring users to download lengthy updates.

Clearly, a Web browser doesn't have the same capacity or compute power available through a console or directly on a PC, but Valve's hybrid distribution and "Quake Live" lean toward easier access to high-quality gameplay.

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