Game on! The future of Flash as a game development platform

I am receiving every day, for at least one year, emails or messages from Flash developers worried about the future of Flash as a game development platform.

I always say there’s no need to worry about it for at least another couple of years, because I firmly believe in it, and finally an official note from Adobe seems to confirm what I am saying.

This picture recaps Flash and gaming situation:

And for the laziest of you who just want some play text statistics:

* 3 billions hour per week (that’s 342,466 years!!) are spent playing games globally.

* 80% of App Store revenue goes to mobile games.

* 98 million americans (1 in 3 people online) play social/casual games.

* Table owners spend 67% of their time playing games.

* Gaming industry is two times bigger than music industry.

* 1.3 billion computers (four times U.S. population – five times Playstation + Xbox + Wii units) have Flash Player installed

* 96% of the top games on Facebook are built on Flash technology

* 500 million iPhone, iPad and Android devices can install games built with Flash technology via app stores, as Adobe Air lets developers package games built with Flash for iOS and Android, with native hardware accelerated performance.

* More than two million people are playing Zombie-Jombie, powered by HTML5 + Adobe Phonegap Build

* 1.7 billion desktops + mobile devices can use Flash technology for GPU accelerated gaming

* 40 million people play Farmville 2 every month, powered by Stage3D

* Kabam social game revenue in 2012 was $180 million.

* $70 million monthly revenue comes from 9 top chinese games using Flash technology.

* The most successful Facebook game in 2012 was Songpop, powered by Flash for iOS and Android.

I’d personally suggest to continue studying AS3 for the next years.

  • George Femic

    AS3 FTW! Flash will never die!

  • I use to develop for mobile with cocos2D. Now I’ve changed to Starling/Flash. The performance is great and the development time shorter. No need to worry on mobile too.

    • I love flash games and they will always be popular!

  • Jan Trueller

    Nevertheless, Adobe’s strategy is confusing. Was it really so hard to see that they cannot make money with the player/runtime itself? The whole XC/premium feature BS was just over-the-top, maybe some marketing folks got blinded by the magic of big numbers.. In the end, this move might have pushed even more devs to native platforms.

    The Flash platform/AIR could be the best, most feature complete multi-target dev platform there is, BUT

    * How is the longterm strategy for a more and more diverse spectrum of devices? The Flash Player for mobile is gone, will AIR compile for windows mobile devices? Are Stage3D and the current AVM really that fast to be able to compete with console grade games? For decent performance the hacking begins with ANE, ASC2, domain mem quirks, FlasCC, Scout etc. and so on! So much learning required just to get some speed – some people might then decide to learn a native language in the first place.

    * Flash has a serious performance problem, compared to other virtual machines. Why does Adobe develop so much tools to debug, tweak and optimize etc., so the task of gaining execution speed is left to the community (!), but doesn’t FOCUS on a rocking fast AVM/next/ASC2 thingy? I can even read blog posts about _compilation_ speeds, as if the _execution_ performance wouldn’t be the main bottleneck.

    * Flash is damned marketing driven. As a dev, I don’t like to read about blablabla new feature X and blablabla super new stuff Y, but I want solid and working APIs/frameworks. Topmost priority of new features should be that they WORK – why is so much stuff released way to early, when it’s not finished? For some serious engineering a _reliable_ feature set is essential – how much time did we all spent to find workarounds for functions that just did not work as promised in the docs? Unfortunately, it’s quite common these days to literally make ALL devs and users to beta testers.. :/

    * Many underlying concepts of multimedia development were initially introduced to the web by Flash and are now adopted to the HTML/CSS/JS world. But due to competition, browser vendors will keep fighting about market shares, all APIs included.. Since they’re forced to aim at their own USP, it ends up that they actually work _against_ standards! That’s why Flash had such a big success: It worked as de-facto standard for RIAs, video and games, although not being open-source.

    I’d really like to stay with AS3 but as stated, Adobe’s strategy often looks odd to me and seems to be aiming more at design, image and communication than on the pure functioning of their products. Which will speak for itself as a ROI – advertisement cannot really kill good working technology, as Apple had to learn when they tried to ‘kill’ free Flash-made RIAs with an ad campaign in order to sell apps (which are basically the same as RIAs) for money..

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  • What about the two things that caused a BIG rant: No AS4 (ActionScript Next), and No windows Metro/Phone support?

  • Gotta take every bit of marketing that comes out of Adobe with a pinch of salt as they are so prone to backtracking, as we seen with Flash on Mobile, Flex, Premium Feature, ActionScript Next etc.

    Tomorrow they could be stating there is no market for games at all and that if you interested in 3D you should be saving yur cereal boxes at home to build models out of.

  • Yordan Yanakiev

    Hail To Adobe for this serious step ahead, and this stunning great news for the greatest design oriented programming platform of all-the-times.

    Now Adobe it is time to show to the world that Flash is not going to die, but actually the opposite.
    It is time for the world to understand the features and the things which could be made with this stunning platform.

    Thank You Adobe that You gave the world all this multimedia and design platforms!
    You just rock ! :)

  • The real advantage is to publish to mobile devices. Otherwise, the web itself with Flash has no meaningful source of revenues. It is hard to develop a Flash game to sell and the ads are paying a ridiculous amount.

  • Michael

    Hi Emanuele, Could not find a regular contact page. Performance in flash games, how low specs do you support? Or how low should I support. A friends old laptop cannot run it well, But how far do I go with this?

  • Rick

    Sebastien, what do you mean by ads are paying a ridiculous amount? For flash games or for mobile apps?

  • Rick, I mean ridiculous amount for Flash on the Web and not mobile. I looked at MochiMedia and the eCPM was under $0.20. It’s quite hard to monetize a game with that. The mobile seems to have higher eCPM. Many times more according to mobile developers. If anyone knows a company with high eCPM for the Flash on the Web, let me know.

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  • weblingo

    You all wanna look at starling/flash
    speed is awesome, loads of help online

  • Coudray

    Thanks for sharing!

    It’s good to know that flash games are still popular and kick’in, Also it’s really fun to learn flash and design the images :)

  • I’m sorry to say I do not trust Adobe anymore, i’ve been there with Macromedia Director and can see the same happening to the Flash platform in the recent years, it’s not going away, it’s a great rapid development tool, but Adobe doesn’t seem to be committed to its development in the long term and nobody knows what comes from them tomorrow. I’ve been a Flash developer for 14 years and while still developing my projects with starling/as3 for both web and mobile I’ve started a shift toward LibGDX a fully open source solution. In my opinion the only thing that can revive the trust of developers in the Flash platform would be open sourcing it, that would give us some peace of mind in terms of future development of the platform.

  • Flash game era is waning.

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