With the release of Chrome 66 late last month, Google introduced new autoplay restrictions on both mobile and desktop Chrome. Sites could only start video and audio automatically if they had a high score on Chrome’s ‘Media Engagement Index,’ which takes into account how often the user clicks on the site and watches media.
While this was a good change in theory, it received plenty of valid criticism. For example, the new behavior broke countless web games and demos. In response to the outrage, Google is temporarily rolling back some of the changes.
The following statement was posted on the Chromium bug tracker:
Thank you everyone for the examples, they were helpful to our investigation.
We’ve updated Chrome 66 to temporarily remove the autoplay policy for the Web Audio API. This change does not affect most media playback on the web, as the autoplay policy will remain in effect for <video> and <audio>.
We’re doing this to give Web Audio API developers (e.g. gaming, audio applications, some RTC features) more time to update their code. The team here is working hard to improve things for users and developers, but in this case we didn’t do a good job of communicating the impact of the new autoplay policy to developers using the Web Audio API.
The policy will be re-applied to the Web Audio API in Chrome 70 (October). Developers should update their code based on the recommendations at: https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2017/09/autoplay-policy-changes#webaudio
This report was originally filed with a user interface suggestion for controlling autoplay. As others have pointed out, this is a non-trivial user interface challenge with a lot of nuances. We are still exploring options to enable great audio experiences for users, and we will post more detailed thoughts on that topic here later.
Put simply, the autoplay changes are still in place for HTML5 video and audio (so autoplaying videos are still blocked), but not for the Web Audio API that most games use. Google currently plans on re-introducing the restrictions in Chrome 70, but the Chrome team is looking into other options as well.