With Google Stadia’s launch and developments in browser technology, you might think that browser makers like Mozilla and Opera will be jumping onto the game streaming train. That idyllic future might still be far away and, until then, browsers and games will exist separately and sometimes in competition for computer resources. Despite that situation, Opera wants to paint itself as a gaming-friendly browser developer, which is why it created the Opera GX “gaming browser” that it is now making available in early access on macOS.
Macs are not always considered to be gaming computers, even if they have the hardware capacity for it. Even Opera’s own survey shows that only 14% of gamers do so on macOS. That might be slowly changing, though, especially with the arrival of Apple Arcade. And with the macOS’ rise as a gaming OS, so, too, rises the need to make sure these games run smoothly.
Next to games, web browsers often have the reputation of being the biggest drain on resources on computers. That becomes even more pronounced when you have a resource-heavy online game running at the same time as your browser. The two classes of software compete not just for CPU cycles but especially over RAM and network bandwidth.
That’s why Opera created what it calls a gaming browser but is really more of a gaming-friendly browser. To be clear, it’s not a browser you’re supposed to play games on (unless they’re browser games). Instead, it is a special flavor of Opera with controls to throttle the browser’s use of computer resources to give way to games. It’s not a full solution, though, since it doesn’t control how other programs may be using up resources in the background but it at least keeps the biggest resource hog at bay.
Opera GX also offers other features that PC gamers might like. They can, for example, theme their browser to match their favorite games or play YouTube gameplay videos on top of games via the picture-in-picture functionality, though the latter is still marked as coming soon. In fact, Opera GX is pretty much still in its beta phase and Opera has no definite target when this early access period will end.