Flash In The Pan?
“Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5.”
If the absence of Flash on iPhone and iPod Touch for three years and its current incompatibility with iPad left any room for doubt, then Steve Jobs’ recent tirade to employees made clear the depth of the Apple CEO’s ill-feeling toward Adobe’s ubiquitous media platform. But more than mere dissatisfaction with the internet’s most pervasive mode of serving multimedia content, including webgames, Jobs’ support of the new web standard, HTML5, shows Apple’s deeper, more aggressive goal: to bring about the downfall of Flash by shifting the very source of how we experience games and watch videos on the net.
But with a multimillion-dollar gaming industry built upon Flash foundations, what impact might Jobs’ plans have for the webgame developer? Does HTML5 really offer the features and functionality that contemporary, ever more ambitious webgames require? And if not, then will new platforms such as Unity provide the cornerstones of gaming’s future on the web, even as they too are threatened with being shut out of Apple’s product range? We asked some of the internet’s leading game developers and distributors to find out.
Paul Preece is developer of Desktop Tower Defense, perhaps Flash gaming’s biggest success story and the only videogame to kick start an entirely new genre in the past decade. He feels as though the debate is largely hot air: “Of course, Flash should never have been required to play video on the web in the first place. But game developers were fortunate that it was needed, as it allowed a sophisticated development platform to be distributed to 99 per cent of computers by piggybacking on the coat tails of video support. Web-based games wouldn’t be anywhere near as pervasive as they are now if HTML had supported video back in 2005 when YouTube launched. Now that Flash has established its own momentum as the default games platform for the web it will not be affected much by video support moving from the Flash plugin to the browser. The debate is a red-herring in relation to webgames.”
“Right now, for development of 2D web games, Flash is still the preferred option. Moreover, the main advantage of Flash is that if the user has the plugin, they can see the content. There’s no need to worry about cross-browser, cross-platform compatibility: it just works. HTML5 is too new to judge how it’s going to be used for the development of games. For technologically savvy people, it’s easy enough to upgrade your browser to the latest version. But for the masses, they are likely to have a slow browser that doesn’t support HTML5 for some time. So if there is a shift, it’s not going to surface for years.”
You can read the rest of this feature over at Edge Online here