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The History of Browser Games

Griffin Bateson / March 27, 2023
The History of Browser Games

Browser Games have had a niche, yet essential role since the mid-90s in gaming history. While gaming has been around for quite some time, browser games hold a special place in many players' hearts. The ability to just hop onto a computer and start gaming is so convenient and fun. There is no need to buy microphones, controllers, or consoles that are made specifically for gaming. These low barriers to entry are the biggest appeal to browser games.

Browser Games Timeline

We could write pages and pages talking about the history of video games as a whole. However, we are just going to focus on the history of browser games. We will go into how browser games got their start, the rise of browser games, the modern landscape of browser games, and how Coolmath Games relates to all of this. With that being said, let’s go all the way back to the 1990s and see how browser games got their start.

The Beginning

The earliest browser games go back to the 1990s when the internet was really starting to take off. A few of the earliest browser games were Earth 2025 and The Palace. While both of these games had terrible graphics by today's standards, back then they were known as groundbreaking video games. The concept of people playing games straight from their computer was something that just hadn’t really been done yet, and it would go on to change the landscape of gaming as a whole.

In the late 1990s, as the internet became more popular, browser games began to evolve. In 1997, a game called "Netrek" was released, which was one of the first online multiplayer games to use real-time graphics. It was a space-based game that allowed players to pilot their own ships and engage in battles with other players.

Early 2000s

At the turn of the century, multiplayer games started to become increasingly popular. Games like Runescape and World of Warcraft started to take over the internet. Gamers were excited to play games with their friends right from the comfort of their own desktops.

One site that was born during this boom of browser games was our very own Coolmath Games. At this time it wasn’t a huge website, mostly focusing on math games for teaching purposes. However, within a few years, it would start gaining tremendous popularity.

Coolmath Games starts to take off

History of Browser Games Run Gameplay

Many of the most popular browser games here at Coolmath Games took off between 2007 and 2009. This is when a few of the most famous series got their start. This includes games such as Run 1, Bloons Tower Defense, and Fireboy and Watergirl. Every single one of these games became staples of Coolmath Games and are all up there as browser games legends.


Today, browser games remain very much alive, with classic games still remaining extremely relevant. This includes the oldies like Chess and Checkers, which have been around for hundreds of years. To learn more about this, check out our Coolmath Games blog on the history of Chess.

As of the last decade or so, mobile games have been one of the biggest changes in the history of browser games as a whole. People bring their phones pretty much everywhere they go, which means that games have had to adapt to that environment. Many of the most popular mobile games have been in a battle royale format, where players must take down every other opponent in the lobby in order to turn out victorious. One of the most popular games that we have in this genre is, a hexagonally-themed game where you must dominate the map and take over 20% of the area.

A significant shift in the last few years in the browser gaming community has been the end of Adobe Flash Player. Tons of games on almost every single browser gaming platform had to be converted to HTML in order to stay up. This is a much bigger task than one might think, but several sites have managed to do it. For example, here at Coolmath Games, we are slowly starting to bring back several of the most popular Papa's Games, and have already brought back a few such as Papa's Pizzeria, Freezeria, and Bakeria.

In conclusion, browser games have come a long way since their humble beginnings in the mid-1990s. From simple 2D games to complex 3D games, the genre has evolved to meet the demands of modern gamers. With the rise of mobile devices and HTML, browser games are more accessible than ever before, and the future is only looking better and better.