Commentary

Will Apple's Anti-Flash Stance Affect Mobile Gaming?

This week, Apple impresario Steve Jobs put a shot across Adobe's bow, explaining in detail why the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad (The "iPlatforms," hereafter) do not and will not in the future support Adobe Flash. You can check out his 6-point Flash philippic here. The key points for people who aren't Apple shareholders are that Flash is murderous to mobile device battery life, and that it's buggy, crash-prone and not especially secure. This of course has major implication for the Web as a whole, but this is the Gaming insider -- what does it mean for games?

 In the short term, probably not too much. As Jobs' open letter points out, there are plenty of games on the App Store, and anyone who's been to AddictingGames.com knows that there are enough free Flash games out there to occupy even those with a surfeit of spare time. Web game devs code in Flash, and Apple devs can code in HTML5, and each platform has its own title lists -- no big deal.

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But as the Apple/Adobe war continues, Web game developers may want to start choosing sides. Since a game developed using HTML5 can run on both the Web and on the iPlatforms, as Apple's products proliferate in the marketplace as gaming devices -- and they're already major players in that space -- Flash will simply not be less economical than developing on the open platform, unless Flash proves itself to have features that are truly unique, which at the moment aren't there. On top of that, Adobe will have to fix the stability, battery life, and functionality problems that Jobs highlighted.

The reason these things are mission-critical for Adobe is that mobile is the future of casual and social gaming; there's no reason we need to be tied to our desktops to play "Farmville" or "Plants vs. Zombies." With the iPlatforms as some of the most dominant mobile gaming platforms, Adobe needs to make sure to either twist Apple's arm until they cave and support Flash, or make gaming on the Droid so good that we all forget about iPhones.

3 comments about "Will Apple's Anti-Flash Stance Affect Mobile Gaming? ".
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  1. Eric Oliver from TheCosmonaut, April 30, 2010 at 4:50 p.m.

    Your article misses a couple of crucial points:
    1) Steve Jobs's assertions are not entirely accurate. Check out http://ow.ly/1Fg5v (including the comments) to see some very spirited debate as to whether he's telling the truth or not.
    2) The economics of game development relate not only to market size but cost to develop. Developing games in HTML5 that feature all the features and depth of Flash games is currently impossible, and will continue to be economically challenging for a LONG time (unless someone comes out with a Flash-like IDE for HMTL5... hint-hint, Adobe).
    3) Android is supporting Flash, and it remains to be seen whether Apple's current market dominance will continue in the face of a Google-backed technology. Particularly since Apple's choice has alienated so many developers, Android could see a big growth in apps and subsequent attractiveness to consumers as well as developers.

    I agree with your last point, though - Adobe is now in the hotseat. They better make gaming on Android awesome or they're dead meat.

  2. Bruce May from Bizperity, May 1, 2010 at 1:23 p.m.

    Don't overlook the significant role of flash video which is everywhere on the Internet.... what's going on outside the game market is a major factor here.

  3. Anthony Giallourakis from Advergames.com, LLC, May 5, 2010 at 1:31 a.m.

    Shankar are you kidding? Please don't tell me you have become the Jim Kramer of video game business reporting? You have been at this too long and know better. This is the first time I have wanted to disagree with your incredible prowess.

    Playing "Farmville on a mobile devise is tantamount to being seduced by a shadow, good luck with that over time. I resign my position as one of your passionate readers. Apple is a great devise company, but the marketplace for overpriced, over hyped, you've gotta have it hardware is........... well, it is last years apple.

    Apple is lucky IMHO to still have so many consumers who are willing to spend their paychecks on overpriced technology. For a gut check, just go to Dell's web site and see what $499 will get you. Same at HP and Sony for only $199. I have do dash now. Really? i-wanna throw up now.

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