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 Death Of Mobile Browser Flash No Surprise To Some Game Companies

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PostSubject: Death Of Mobile Browser Flash No Surprise To Some Game Companies   Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:47 am





In light of Adobe's recent decision to cease development of Flash Player for mobile browsers, a handful of game companies shared their initial reactions to the news. As it turns out, they all saw this coming.

Some companies, like the online game portal Kongregate, saw the move as a
bit of a let down, while others, like Flash streaming service iSwifter,
see it as an exciting opportunity to fill a new niche in the mobile
market. No matter their stance, however, it seems companies have seen
the writing on the wall for Flash's death on mobile browsers for quite
some time.

"We are not terribly surprised," Kongregate CEO Jim Greer told
Gamasutra. "Adobe's move to HTML5 was already well known and something
we've talked to them about. Having said that, we're disappointed that
they are turning their back on a market need."

"Kongregate Arcade's high rating [on the Android Market] and installed
user base has proven an interest in mobile optimized Flash games," he
explained. "The good news is that the current version of Flash still
works great on Android and should work well for games for some time to
come."

Greer explained that personally, he isn't too worried about the lack of
support for Flash on mobile browsers, since Kongregate is "pretty much
agnostic to what technology a game uses," and will continue to offer
games running in HTML5, Unity and Java. "As long as developers are
making great games for browsers and mobile, we're in good shape," he
said.

Tech Limitations

Reflecting on the reasons for Adobe's decision, Anatoly Ropotov, CEO of
social game developer innoWate, explained that the company backed itself
into a corner with Flash, since the platform just wasn't well suited
for performance on mobile hardware, and thus couldn't maintain a strong
foothold in the market.

"How did Adobe end up in this position? With thousands of exceptional
Flash games available, Adobe ended up without their own standalone
Marketplace due to... lack of content that actually works," he wrote in a
recent Gamasutra blog post.

"If Adobe is to make a difference on mobile platforms, they will have to
fix AIR for both iOS and Android yet again, and play another round of
catch-up game with Unity on mobile. What's worse, frustrated developers
are beginning to realize that Flash doesn't offer anything to them on
mobile. In reality, it isnít a cross-platform game engine like Unity,
it's still a slow virtual machine for a scripting language that ended up
recompiling code to speed-up itself," he wrote.

New Opportunities

Companies like iSwifter are similarly blunt about Flash's limitations on
mobile hardware, and company co-founder Peter Relan said he's been
waiting for Adobe to abandon Flash on mobile browsers for quite some
time.

"It's a little awkward, because we've bet for almost two years that this
would be the outcome," said Relan. His company uses cloud technology to
stream PC browser-based Flash games to mobile devices, including iPad
and Android devices.

"Adobe's mistake was made two years ago, and that was mistake was not
realizing that the architecture on which they built the Flash business
was built for the PC and web, where you have unlimited CPU cycles and
unlimited power, because your PC plugs into a wall," he said.

"The mistake was not putting 50 to 100 engineers on the job and saying
'mobile's different, so re-write the whole darn thing for mobile.'"

While Relan said this failure was certainly a mistake on Adobe's part,
iSwifter is excited to take advantage of the newly-created gap in the
mobile games space by debuting its cloud-based Flash streaming service
for Android devices.

"We've had the Android version of our product for a year, we've just
been holding it back until users clearly see no confusion in the
market," Relan said, explaining that iSwifter's service will allow users
to play Flash games on mobile devices as long has they have a reliable
network connection.

"You might notice a little lag, but most people don't care, because there's an still an alternative," he said.

A Cohesive Vision

Other companies are similarly excited by Adobe's decision, but for
different reasons. Kolja Reiss, managing director of the mobile app
monetization company Mopay, said mobile browser developers can breathe a
little easier with Flash out of the picture.

"When I read the news, I was like 'oh well, that's not a surprise,'"
said Reiss. "My second thought was, 'Finally we are all moving in the
same direction.'"

"I think it's a positive thing for the game industry, because I know how
painful it is for small publishers and large publishers to supports
tons of different platforms. You've got Android and iOS and Flash, and
then there's Java, and obviously HTML5, so it would have been so painful
if Flash had a big presence on Android," Reiss said.

He explained that Mopay used to support Flash games with its
monetization service, but working with the platform proved to be such a
"pain in the neck" that the company stopped supporting Flash more than a
year ago.

"This move helps the industry because the big players are now aligned.
If you want to use something that has a proven future, use HTML5, I
think that will help developers more."

Despite ending development of Flash for mobile browsers, Adobe said it will continue to work in the mobile space by "enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores."

Alongside this shift in its mobile strategy, Adobe plans to let go roughly 750 employees across North America and Europe.

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