What Will Happen to Flash Games?

In the early days of the internet, when AOL ruled supreme and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still battled Netscape to be king of the browsers, Flash was the technology of choice for budding animators and game designers. Many of our first memes, before we even knew what memes were, came to us through Flash. Entire sites were built around the platform serving up original content faster than we could consume it.

Flash Games
Image credits: Pixabay

So What’s Changed?

Everything. Browsers are smarter and safer, computers have increased exponentially in power and ability, and Flash is simply no longer relevant. Browser plugins (like Flash) have become extinct because they provided system-wide access for malware. This is why 2020 will be the last year content built on the aging platform will be available. Adobe is sunsetting support for Flash, and so will your browser by the end of the year.

What Now?

Most of the world has moved onto modern alternatives, HTML 5 and Unity being the most popular ones. They do everything Flash used to do and so much more. They are robust and powerful. Best of all, they don’t provide a backdoor into your system for any unwanted guests. This means the future of online content creation is bright, but that has to be cold comfort for those games you might have grown up loving. Surely the world is a darker place without the likes of Kitten Cannon and Kingdom Rush!

So That’s It?

Not quite. When it comes to the future of Flash, there isn’t any. It will cease to exist. The back catalog of games, however, might have found a way to live on. Projects like Blue Maxima’s Flashpoint are trying to save every game they legally can while giving you a platform that allows downloading and local play. Kongregate.com, perhaps the largest active Flash gaming website, has partnered with The Strong National Museum of Play to preserve its catalog of over 100,000 games. Guides are available online to help you download games that haven’t made it on anyone else’s list just yet.

Support for Flash may be ending, but grassroots efforts and digital archivists worldwide are trying to make the past readily accessible for future generations. In short, it will be easier to find many of your childhood favorites than it used to be. After all, when was the last time you saw cartridges for Atari and Colecovision out in the wild?

And Then What?

Move on, my friend. The world already did, and you’ll be in good company with more free games at your disposal than you could ever play. Here, try this solitaire classic free game. There’s no load time, and no storage space is taken up on your system. It’s sweet, simple, and to the point. There is a whole world of free entertainment out there that can breathe life into aging systems or free the shackled office worker from tedium in their cubicle during break time. (And only on your break, right?)
The year 2020 has been rough for all of us, but the demise of Flash doesn’t have to add to the difficulty. It’s the end of an era, sure, but it certainly isn’ the end of the Wild West that is indie web game development.

A quick search will turn up sites like itch.io, which offers more than 280,000 games at the time of writing. With greater access to high quality, low-cost art assets and the barrier to entry for development being lower than ever, you’ll never reach the limits of what our free, weird, and wonderful games can give us. So come on, ye cheapskates, penny pinchers, broke gamers, and indie enthusiasts, join me in exploring Flash’s legacy!