Why the death of Flash hasn’t meant the death of browser games

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When Adobe announced that they were cancelling Flash, the world was shocked and concerned about what would replace it and how our daily computing would be affected. Since its release in 1996, Flash Player had become one of the essential multimedia viewing platforms. The platform was, however, consistently plagued with security issues. Flash was so popular and had so many users that it was a constant target for hackers, a problem that Adobe could not control or adequately protect against. This led to constant security updates and compatibility issues.

One sector that was particularly concerned about the ending of Flash was browser games. Some thought the loss of Flash would mean the end of this gaming niche. So how has browser gaming survived?

History of Flash browser games

Although Flash was initially intended to only be used as a multimedia viewing platform, once it had a programming language, it could be used for more varied purposes. The most interesting of these was the creation of browser games.

Browser games are simpler than traditional PC or console games and have more in common with mobile games. Perhaps this similarity is why browser games have survived the loss of Flash – people enjoy having a basic game to play when they have a few spare minutes (or need a little procrastination break from work!). Since browser games do not require space on your hard drive, they can be played on even very basic systems and do not demand the elaborate gaming setups that most modern games require.

The majority of Flash browser games were created by independent designers and programmers who didn’t have the support of a large studio behind them. Anyone who had a bit of coding knowledge and an idea could make and release a Flash game. This led to a huge variety of games, some more traditional, others wildly experimental. Browser games were often offered for free. As recouping the costs traditionally associated with releasing a video game through a studio was not a factor, designers could make anything they wanted.

Since there was no financial element to these games, they were incredibly accessible. Games would be posted on multiple websites and were easy to find. Unfortunately, the lack of oversight did of course mean that some of the games produced were graphically violent or featured problematic themes. But most games were just simple fun.

Alternatives to Flash

The main reason that the transition away from Adobe Flash has gone so smoothly is the existence of HTML5. So what is it? HTML5 is actually composed of three types of code: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The three work together to structure, present and activate web content. The most important difference between HTML5 and Adobe Flash, however, is that it is integrated into the web pages themselves and doesn’t require a plugin or software download in order to function. This removes the need for frequent updates and eliminates the security risks that Adobe was constantly fighting with Flash.

Game designers have been quick to make use of HTML5. A quick glance at the variety of games offered at www.skycitycasino.com show that the legacy of Flash is alive and well and that HTML5 is a great replacement. The simple mechanics of online slots, for example, remind us of simple turn-based browser games. The bright and playful aesthetic of many of these games is also similar.

Where to play browser games

The time between the announcement that Flash was being abandoned and its actual demise was long enough that game designers and browser game libraries were able to plan accordingly. For some, this meant developing new games using the alternative formats, finding ways to rerelease old games or creating plugins or software that mimicked Flash and allowed for continued play.

There are a number of browser game libraries with a huge variety of games to appeal to every audience. Just as with mobile games, there is something for everyone and they are often offered for free, though ads are generally included. Newgrounds and Kongregate both have large libraries and have been mostly successful in navigating the transition from Flash to its alternatives, though both still do have unplayable games in their libraries.

Even though we all became a little frustrated sometimes with what felt like constant and unnecessary updates, Flash will be fondly remembered and never forgotten. It was an important part of the internet and provided many young game developers with a way to make their game ideas a reality.

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