Comparing 3D Environments in Your Browser

Editor’s note: Austin from MuseGames put together this comparison of how 3D environments render in a variety of browsers. Muse Games is a destination site that finally brings fun 3D, multiplayer gaming in to the web browser.

Being peddlers of 3D content, we thought it appropriate to take a look at the current state of 3D in the browser. How do the different browsers stack up? Read on to find out, and if you’re using IE6, please, for the love of your developers, upgrade.

 Safari 3 (and 4)

Safari 3D

Rating: BEST

Download:  Mac  PC

Both Safari 3 and 4 dominate all the other browsers in terms of speed, performance, and aesthetics, with 4 being the latest and greatest. We of course realize Safari is not all that popular, particularly with Windows users, but the sheer technical superiority of Safari warrants giving it a shot. In terms of specifics, Safari 4 executes javascript faster than any other browser (with the exception of Chrome, where it is about evenly matched), it supports the latest standards for website design, and it exhibits no threading or memory issues related to rendering 3D in the browser via an ActiveX plugin(see Firefox).


Chrome 3D

Rating: GREAT

Download:  PC

At this point, Google’s Chrome is PC only, but for any windows users who really dislike Apple, Chrome is the way to go. It executes Javascript nearly as fast as Safari 4, is very stable, adheres to modern standards and just works. We didn’t give it Best status only because it isn’t cross platform. But with public Mac and Linux builds around the corner, Chrome may soon steal our coveted top spot.

 IE 7/8

Internet Explorer 3D

Rating: GOOD

Download:  PC

It may be surprising, but IE 7 and 8 get third place in our browser line up. It may not have the prettiest web rendering, or even support all the web standards we would like, but the core engine is relatively stable, and doesn’t cause any of the disastrous framerate glitches we see in Firefox. Of course IE8 is much better than IE7 in terms of web standards compliance, but really, that is just a matter of taste, and if you really care about supporting web standards, download Safari or Chrome. That said, picky users who only trust Microsoft products should still download the latest version of IE, both for the added security benefits as well as superior gameplay performance.


 Firefox 3

Firefox 3D

Rating: OKAY

Download:  Mac  PC

We’re stepping on some toes here, we know – but in terms of playing 3D games in your browser Firefox isn’t very good. It leaks memory, which means it crashes more frequently, and something in its Javascript core seems to not be threaded properly, which causes framerate glitches. Additionally, it always seems like they are breaking one aspect or another of ActiveX control support (in this case 3D). The web standards support is nice, but generally, we’d recommend Safari or Chrome for performance reasons.

We’re really hoping Firefox 3.5 solves some of these issues, because we love the Add-on architecture, and probably couldn’t live without Firebug.

 IE 6

IE 6 Fail

Rating: BAD

This is the worst browser the world has ever known. Unfortunately, a lot of folks still use it, either because they don’t care, or their IT department doesn’t care. Which always surprises us, because it only takes a few minutes to download the latest update and move to a vastly better (faster, safer, & prettier) browsing experience. We have stopped actively supporting IE 6 because the extra work required is about the same as developing an extra game per year. It has terrible Javascript support, terrible bugs and glitches, totally non-standard web rendering, and poor threading implementations – which means bad gameplay and framerate. Please help us eliminate IE6 entirely. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your IT department to stop eating donuts and at least get you IE8.