Releasing a game as a PWA?

I’ve lately read some posted issues about how difficult it is to get a game listed on the official app store for Apple/Google/etc, particularly if it involves a game & interpreter pair.

Has there been any talk in creating creating a game as a Progressive Web App (PWA)? It allows installing the game on a person’s phone as if it’s an app.

This forum is a PWA.

I can help with making this happen if there’s interest.

I helped set up the Twine web app as a PWA. It was straightforward.

It’s kind of orthogonal to getting a game in the app stores, though. There’s no particular problem with releasing an interpreted game. The platform holders only object if you try to release a game browser, i.e., an app that exposes its own library of games.

(No, I have no idea how iPhone Frotz has slipped through all these years. I suspect an IF-friendly Apple employee slapped a note on it saying “give it a pass.”)

However, and on the other hand, the app stores have enough friction that you wouldn’t really want to bother unless you expect to sell a fair number of copies. For a free IF game, a PWA is probably a better solution.

PWAs don’t offer users a lot of benefit above just having a web site. “Installing a web site as if it’s an app” basically just means:

  • Having an app icon on the home screen (this is as bad as it is good; my home screen is already too cluttered)
  • Hiding the URL bar
  • Working offline (this only makes sense if you have an app icon on the home screen)

I’d say it’s a very unusual IF game that I would want to add to my phone’s home screen. Maybe a game that I play over and over again, day after day? Maybe an IF interpreter would make sense as a PWA, which I could use repeatedly to play any number of games. But if every game is a web site, why would I even need an interpreter? My browser is the “interpreter.”

Maybe IFDB would be a good PWA, if I could open it every day with recommendations of good games to play. But it’s very difficult to teach users how to install PWAs anyway… people would discover the IFDB “app” more easily if it were available in the App Store / Google Play Store.


There is one additional benefit on iOS (only), which is that cookies can be retained indefinitely for a PWA. Regular iOS Safari has a two-week max lifespan for cookies(*).

This is why I tackled the task of PWA-ing the Twine web app.

(* If you don’t keep visiting the web site) (* but you do browse other sites regularly) (* sorry, it’s a complicated rule, lot of qualifiers.)

As I understand it, if you’re playing an inform game via it’s online website, then when you return to it later, you must have internet access at that moment when the site reloads.

That’s a weakness that terps don’t have, and a PWA wouldn’t have either.