January 25, 2022

10 Lesser-Known Game APIs that Gaming App Developers Use

Nabeel Keblawi

10 Lesser-Known Game APIs that Gaming App Developers Use

While the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic caused hardships for many businesses across various industries, it also paved a way for others to thrive. The gaming industry was one of them.

Since many people were forced to stay home, respecting social distancing rules, they gravitated towards online games as their preferred way to spend leisure time.

The increased demand for different kinds of games led to the rise in the number of gaming apps, and by extension, web APIs as well as video game APIs. Consequently, the gaming market became more competitive and innovative as game developers strive to fulfill market demand and users’ needs.

By some estimates, the online gaming industry is expected to grow by 11.9% annually through 2026, and the rising trend of professional gaming is only going to speed this up.

With that said, we can see how the gaming market can be lucrative. We decided to help those who want to venture into this competitive market by providing them with a list of the best game APIs they can find.

What Are Gaming APIs?

Before we dive deeper, let's briefly explain what game APIs are.  We define gaming API as a software interface that enables communication between two applications. By using this interface, two apps can interact with each other, share rules, specifications, data, and settings. 

Furthermore, APIs interact with operating systems and libraries and share embedded gaming content which paves the way for the development of gaming technologies.

To cite a few examples, REST APIs allow developers to interface their game with large open video databases and pull insightful data on specific games. Other ways APIs can help is to send running processes into the background and eliminate middle intermediaries that may otherwise clog up game performance, thus optimizing the player experience.

Why Game Developers Use APIs Instead of Building from Scratch?

The main reason why developers use game APIs instead of starting from scratch is the fact that using APIs saves time and boost’s productivity. Since the gaming industry is competitive, and the demand for new, modern games continues to rise, companies need to find a quick way to create new products. If developers focus on building every feature for their games from the ground up, they’ll lose precious time, competitive edge, and decrease productivity.

Let’s say, for example, you wonder whether to make a chat for your game from scratch, or purchase a chat API. User expectations of chat features are quite high, and you’ll definitely have to spend a lot of time attending to the smallest details. On the other hand, you can buy a ready-made solution and save time, money, and increase productivity. Plus you’ll be able to avoid the most common mistakes developers make while building a chat application.

Furthermore, by utilizing the full power of gaming APIs, developers can increase user engagement. 

Simply, by streamlining time-consuming and tedious game-making processes, they can focus their efforts on making the game more interesting for the end-user.

In the end, web APIs for video games provide the ready-made solution for making the game environment more engaging, such as helping with creating sound effects, enabling games to be played via the gamepad, or incorporating an in-game chat.

Integrating different APIs can help by allowing teams to implement new functionalities quickly, without building them from scratch. What’s more, research shows that companies who used APIs were almost 60% more productive than the ones who didn’t.

Here are the Best Game APIs to Use this Year

Now that we explained what gaming APIs are and why should developers use them instead of starting from scratch, let’s see what some of the best APIs game developers should use when building a gaming app.

1. RAWG

RAWG Game API

The RAWG API, created by the company that holds the same name, is one of the most popular video game APIs in the world, also known as IMDb for games. Additionally, it's one of the largest open video databases, with 350 thousand games for over 50 platforms. 

It is completely free to use, as long as you attribute it as the source of data. However, those who have greater needs can choose among two paid plans offered by the provider, one of them costing $149 a month, and another one with the pricing available via email inquiries.

It comes with a wide array of features that allow developers to make the most of the video game data. This API takes minutes to integrate, and will make the game-making experience a seamless process.

The RAWG API supports Java, Python, PHP, Ruby and JavaScript programming languages, and it's available for over 50 platforms including mobile.

2. WebVR/ WebXR API

WebVR API, as its name suggests, helps expose VR devices to web applications, allowing developers to translate position and movement information from the display into movement around a 3D scene.  

However, WebVR API is among those Web APIs for games that were never ratified as a web standard, and it has been deprecated in favor of the WebXR API. You don’t have to worry, as you can just update existing code to use this newer API instead.

WebXR API, as we said before, replaced WebVR, and it serves to support rendering 3D scenes to hardware, to support the VR and AR technology. WebXR was created by Vladimir Vukicevic along with other contributors from the Mozilla team. 

This free and open source API allows developers to utilize the full potential of VR and AR technology in their games, making the experience much more enjoyable for the end-user. It also supports JavaScript, and it can run on Firefox and Chrome. Furthermore, it’s easy to integrate and use.

3. WebRTC API

This video game API owned by Google allows the exchange of data without the need for an intermediary. This API enables web apps and websites to capture and stream video and audio without making the user install additional plug-ins and third-party software. 

The technology behind WebRTC API was developed and implemented as an open web standard, and it’s available as a regular Javascript web API.

This API looks like it’s perfectly made for peer-to-peer games, however, some might find it to be too complex, as it requires multiple different technologies to establish a peer-to-peer connection. Furthermore, NAT protocol makes it harder to work with WebRTC, as it stands as a public IP for a private network.

Lastly, before using this video game API, you might want to use the Adapter.js library Google provides. An important thing to mention is that WebRTC implementations are constantly evolving, which results in each browser having different levels for codecs and WebRTC features. Sadly, implementing a WebRTC API might be harder compared to competitors, however, the benefits it provides make the trouble worthy. Especially if we know it’s free to use!

Some of the apps using the WebRTC API include WhatsApp and Snapchat, and they can be used for making various peer-to-peer games such as the League of Legends.

4. Pointer Lock API

The Pointer Lock API (or Mouse Lock API) is a video game API made by W3C that allows access to raw mouse movements, erasing the limits of how far it can go and giving input methods based on the mouse movement over time.

This API is most useful for making first-person 3D games such as Counter-Strike or for any app that uses the mouse to manipulate objects, such as apps for viewing maps, for instance. Furthermore, this API finds its use in any app or game that requires a mouse to control movements, change and rotate objects. 

What makes this API interesting hides in its ability to enable users to move their cursor beyond the boundaries of their browsers and screens. Without it, the manipulation of the objects would stop at the moment where the mouse would reach the edge of the browser or screen. 

This is especially important in games since gamers can now click buttons and swipe the cursor back and forth without fearing they’ll leave the game accidentally or click something randomly.

5. Gamepad API

The Gamepad API, developed by W3C, allows users to interact with their browser using a gamepad. The best thing about it is the fact it doesn't require a special plugin or a driver to work, which makes its use as straightforward as it gets.

This API helps in making games more attractive to users, especially for the racing and platform fighting games, that rely on a gamepad to deliver the best experience.

Unfortunately, the Gamepad API isn't available for public release. However, there's a workaround to using it: simply install a Nightly build on Firefox and a Firebug add-on. This API also supports JavaScript, which is something HTML5 developers usually appreciate.

6. Web Workers API

Web Workers Game API

Web Workers API developed by Cloudflare helps developers run larger processes in the background to avoid freezing up the main page. For instance, if a developer wants to make a more complex operation whenever a user clicks on the assigned button without risking a page freeze or a dreaded "this page is unresponsive" message, they need to use Web Workers.

In a nutshell, Web Workers allow end-users to have a seamless experience, by allowing the background work to take place in another thread.

That said, one of the benefits of Web Workers hides in the fact that this API improves the game's performance and its user experience. The main advantage of this API is the fact that the most daunting processing is done in a separate thread, allowing the main thread to process without being blocked.

Web Workers is supported in JavaScript and TypeScript. Web Workers come with a free plan, while a paid plan starts at $5 per month for an account. The main example of a game built with Web Workers includes Multiplayer Doom, for instance.

7. WebGL

WebGL, or Web Graphics Library, is a JavaScript API that enables rendering 2D and 3D graphics within a browser in real-time. WebGL was developed by Khronos Group when it was chaired by Vladimir Vukicevic, an American-Serbian software engineer.

Developers use WebGL API for making interactive learning tools. Furthermore, this API is used by big brands such as PS4, which uses WebGL to power its UI, to make menus and elements run smoothly, with minimal lag. WebGL is mainly used to create a 2D or 3D game environment, making games more realistic, and improving the overall user experience.

Most browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari support WebGL on both desktop and mobile devices. Furthermore, this API runs in JavaScript and the GL Shader Language. And the best part is - it's royalty-free!

Some of the games made with the help of WebGL API include Google Maps Cube Game, Bullet Force, Pacmaze, and HexGL among many others.

8. Web Audio API

The Web Audio API, developed by W3C, is made to incorporate audio onto the website or an app, but it's also used to create advanced interactive instruments. 

It is designed to allow modular routing and handles audio operations inside an audio context. Its modular design allows greater flexibility when it comes to creating complex audio functions with dynamic effects. Furthermore, this API allows users to manipulate and control how audio is spatialized.

It’s worth mentioning that the Web Audio API might be intimidating for some, especially for people who aren't familiar with music or audio terms. This API runs in C / C++ code, as well as in JavaScript. Web Audio API is royalty-free, and it's easy to use since it's already built into the browser; users can access it from their JavaScript without installing anything.

Developers can use Web Audio API to create sounds within a game. For instance, they can use it to make background music, highlight tense moments, and improve the overall gaming experience. The Web Audio API found its use in many apps, including Spotify, Ableton, Google Meet, BandLab.

9. CometChat

CometChat in-game chat API

Those building multi-user games will definitely appreciate the in-game chat perks CometChat brings. By using CometChat's APIs and SDK, developers will be able to add text, voice, and video chat options to their games, improving user experience and increasing players' engagement.

One of the main benefits of CometChat API is the fact it only takes minutes to set up, saving a lot of time and resources, compared to building everything from scratch. Furthermore, the abundance of online resources and tutorials on CometChat makes the problem-solving process easier and the game development experience much more enjoyable.

CometChat is free for up to 25 users, with a paid plan that can host up to 1,000 users starting at $149 a month. This API supports  React, Angular, Vue, iOs, Java, Kotlin, PHP, Laravel, Ionic and WordPress.

Start by signing up today to test how the CometChat API can help improve the player experience within your gaming app.

10. Discord

Discord

Discord is one of the most popular chat applications made primarily to help developers and users communicate better. DiscordBot API helps users create highly-customized bots by integrating the functionalities of the chatting platform into their information.

What we love about the Discord API is the fact that its robust features enable users to enhance the in-game chat experience by implementing voice chat, push notifications and real-time messaging features.

Another thing that makes the Discord API so popular is its ease of use as well as the fact it offers detailed online documentation that helps developers use the API. Plus, since this API is free and open source, it allows customization, which is highly valued in developer communities.

The process of implementing a Discord API is straightforward, and we’re sure you’ll get a hang of the process pretty quick and without much fuss. Some of the games that use Discord API include PokeMeow and RockPuppy.

Final Thoughts

Developing games is a time-consuming, challenging, and exciting process. 

However, the tech advancement in the field happens so fast, making it harder to stay on top and keep up with the recent developments. 

This is where game APIs come in handy, as they allow developers to cut time on making things from scratch, and focus their efforts on more important things. The bottom line is that game APIS allow us to work smarter, not harder, achieve our goals faster and stay competitive.

About the Author

Nabeel Keblawi, a deaf entrepreneur, runs a Content Marketing and SEO agency that helps B2B SaaS companies grow organically in their industries around the world. His previous work experience involved software development, renewable energy, and cloud computing. In his personal life, Nabeel loves to go hiking with his family, and dust off his skis to hit the slopes given the chance. He is also an avid reader of fictional history.

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