Discontinuation of Adobe Flash

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HTML5 may have replaced Flash, but it will never kill Flash entirely. Flash will always be the go-to platform that powers lots of our childhood games.

Adobe Flash is a multimedia software platform used for production of animations, rich web applications, desktop applications, mobile apps, mobile games, and embedded web browser video players. Flash was initially used to create fully-interactive websites, but this approach was phased out with the introduction of HTML5. Instead, Flash found a niche as the dominant platform for online multimedia content, particularly for browser games. One of Adobe's flagship softwares, Adobe Flash Professional (now Adobe Animate), alongside the ActionScript programming language, was used to create browser games such as Papa's Pizzeria, Club Penguin, Nitrome games, and many more.

Despite being ubiquitous and the go-to platform for many great browser games during its heyday, Flash Player was criticized for performance issues and its lack of security that can be exploited by hackers, as the usage of Flash plugins prompts the generation of a shared library file (like .dll), which can be exploited by hackers to inject malware or initiate malicious activities. TGX Game Reviews during his Thing-Thing video said that his laptop was overheating when he was playing Thing-Thing 4 on the opening cutscene where the framerate dropped a lot. This is likely attributed to how shapes upscale flawlessly on higher resolutions, though at the cost of performance.

On April 29, 2010, an open letter from Steve Jobs was published criticizing Adobe Flash Player not being supported on Apple's iOS operating systems like the iPhone and iPad due to poor performances on mobile devices and battery consumption. Apple didn't want their devices to be on a third-party company, causing Adobe to end support for Flash Player on mobile web browsers in November 2011. Then, everything changed in July 2017, when Adobe announced that they would end support for Flash for good by the end of 2020. The announcement was then coordinated with major web browsers such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox.

On January 14, 2021, Adobe has completely ended support for Adobe Flash Player for web browsers, however leaving the standalone versions of the software still available for download, allowing Flash games that don't require internet connection to be played offline. However, it is still hard to download a majority of them from some sites using links from their pages' source codes, as some of them don't implement the download link to the .swf file. The last version of Flash Player is 32.0.0.465, which was released by Adobe on December 8, 2020. With HTML5 being overall more powerful than Flash, some former Flash game developers have remastered their games by porting them to HTML as a result of the announcement of the discontinuation of Flash. Additionally, there is a project named Flashpoint in development by BlueMaxima, as a goal to preserve a large number of Flash games after the discontinuation of Adobe Flash Player.

Why This Discontinuation Sucks

  1. To get the elephant out of the room, there was no point in discontinuing Adobe Flash, other than for websites to be fully compatible with mobile devices and to be more secure. They didn't even give a proper reason to why it was discontinued.
  2. It caused many great Flash games to become unplayable.
  3. It also caused MMO Flash games such as Neopets, Marapets and Club Penguin Private Servers to be shut down. Though some game have downloadable versions due to this.
  4. There are still many game portal websites that still have their games in Flash and are unable to migrate them to HTML5. For example, Facebook's FarmVille had shut down after 10 years due to Flash as they didn't bother upgrading to HTML5 or any standards that would work with the Facebook app.
  5. You can't use a different web browser to play Flash games since all browsers ended support for Flash, unless your browser is REALLY old (like the older versions of Internet Explorer), or by using forked version of Chrome/Firefox that's runs on old version which support Flash while also still receiving security updates for the browser itself.
  6. Due to Flash's shutdown, the popular site Pogo.com has retired great games like Pogo Bowl. Very commonly associated with network decay, Edheads for example downgraded to only four HTML5 games (the Flash ones are already on Flashpoint and could be found on the Wayback Machine before they changed to paid subscriptions which basically defeated the purpose of getting the subscription anyway)
  7. Adobe refused to keep it supported after 2020 because they keep insisting people to transfer over to HTML5.
  8. There is no way to play Flash games after 2020 due to many of them being too old to migrate.
  9. It's nearly impossible to directly port Flash games to HTML5, so most games must be re-created from scratch.
  10. Adobe had the guts to actually include a timebomb on recent versions of Flash Player (after version 32.0.0.371 which was the last to have no timebomb), which locks up usage of Flash content past January 12, 2021. The timebomb also affects using Flash Player offline, making it impossible to even use Flash past that date. Thankfully, there is a way to stop Flash Player from updating automatically, but for those who already connected to the internet and got new version of Flash installed already, it is too late now, unless you live in China using special version of Flash that was still supported.
  11. On January 12, 2021, all Flash content has become unplayable, and you are now greeted with an icon that tells you about Flash's end of life.
    • It also made the Newgrounds Player unable to play Flash games, since it was still using Flash to run them, though someone seems to have found a work-around.
    • Thankfully though, Flashpoint still works and has not been affected.
    • The Chrome OS version of Chrome still allowed you to use Flash Player until in February 2021 that Chrome disabled it.
    • To make this worse, some sites have completely shut down due to this, one example being the site containing every game by developer Bart Bonte being rendered unusable due to this.
  12. This even caused some older printers to be rendered unusable due to their interface being created in Flash.
    • This also caused a Chinese railroad station to shutdown because they were operated with Flash, presumably the software they were using hasn't been updated for years.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. BlueMaxima's Flashpoint project is working to preserve many Flash games and animations so that people can play and view Flash content after 2020. Plus, The Internet Archive is doing a similar goal.
  2. You can in theory use older versions of Internet Explorer or other old browsers (forked such as Waterfox [version 3 or earlier only][1], Pale Moon, Basilisk, etc...) and use an old version of Windows like Windows XP-7 (or unpatched version of Windows 8-10) to play Flash games after 2020, though it is recommended you use a virtual machine for these and not on an actual computer as old browsers and operating systems tend to have security holes.
  3. Some games are getting non-flash remakes via being ported to JavaScript or external applications, such as Happy Wheels, Pogo Bowl, and the entirety of Ninja Kiwi's game library (which has been ported to Steam under the name "Ninja Kiwi Archive").
  4. The removal of Flash Player is at the very least justified for security and performance reasons, as the usage of Flash plugins prompts the generation of a shared library file (for example, .dll), which can be exploited by hackers to inject malware or initiate malicious activities. However, others have pointed out that most of these security issues were actually fixed years ago, while performance issues are rare on all modern PC, rendering this reason nearly mood.
  5. Some game portal sites are able to port some Flash games to HTML5 like Poki.
  6. You can also use alternative software other than Flash Player after 2020, Ruffle and Lightspark for example. Even better, both are open-source and can be played offline on your computer AND your mobile device. The caveat however, is that they currently might not be 100% compatible and they are still in beta. Some games can have better performance on Ruffle.
  7. Browsers like Basilisk and Puffin retained support for Flash.
  8. An app called Flash Patcher allows you to remove the time bomb on Flash Player, combined with Waterfox [prior to version 4]/Pale Moon, one of the few regularly updated browsers that still supports Flash, and you can now play any Flash game in 2021. The same method is also possible through the China version of Flash Player (see below), without the usage of Flash Patcher.
  9. Another way to get rid of the time bomb is to download older versions of Flash Player from The Internet Archive. or use the Clean Flash Player (which was based of the China version of Flash Player, but much safer as it's doesn't contain spyware, almost latest version and have no timebomb) from here (archived)

Videos

References

  1. Download older version of Waterfox G3 which supports Flash here:

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