When Google rolled out Chrome 66 earlier this May, it offered a tweak that pleased almost everyone by muting sites that would play sound automatically. Unfortunately, it also ended up breaking several projects’ audio.
This meant that a variety of different media, from popular web games to some of Google’s own projects effectively had their audio broken beyond repair. Users were understandably upset, and in response to an overwhelming amount of backlash, Google retained the browser alteration that blocked autoplaying video and audio, but decided to push back the feature’s application for games and web apps to Chrome 71, which is set to debut in December.
What does that mean for you? Chrome 70, is coming around the corner, and it will block basic autoplaying audio and video. But the game and project-breaking blocking isn’t set to officially begin until Chrome 71, at which point developers will be scrambling to figure out a solution.
Google communications manager Ivy Choi spoke to The Verge, where she stated that Chrome will begin “learning” which sites are typically used for playing audio and as such will cater to users’ experiences, meaning you shouldn’t have to frantically search for the mute button on each tab or have your eardrums blasted unexpectedly by some annoying ad in the future. You should see the effects of said learning with the debut of Chrome 70.
There’s a list of 1,000 sites Google rolled out that won’t be blocked by default, such as YouTube, which developers and content creators haven’t exactly been excited about—especially since the original change wasn’t touted as a major feature in the first place. Instead, it was a meme-tastic, pithy announcement that didn’t seem to make that big of a deal of the change.
It’s been particularly frustrating for those who make their living through digital media like web games and media projects that all rely on sound. Creators like QWOP’s Bennett Foddy, speaking to The Verge, was particularly frustrated by the way the team has seemed “determined” to take folks who use web audio “by surprise.” Others like Stephen Lavelle, creator of the puzzler Stephen’s Sausage Roll, have begun leaving audio out of the games he publishes online entirely in response to the changes.
Google is currently hard at work on a new feature that will ease up the blocking feature’s destructive wake when it comes to older games and media projects, where it will allow sound to begin after users have interacted with a page, thus proving their intent and desire to hear sound. Unfortunately, the way Google has gone about this new rollout hasn’t been optimal for creators, which may be more frustrating than being forced to listen to an autoplaying ad or video in Chrome…at least for them.
via The Verge