Flash Games

 · 2 mins

Part One - Introduction

Flash games were a big part of many people’s childhoods, maybe even yours.

Maybe you are too young to have experienced Flash games, maybe you’ve not played them, maybe you haven’t realized you played them. Or most likely, you’re none of these things. Nonetheless, here’s a brief history of Flash games.

Flash games are web (or, in very, very rare cases, standalone) games that were prevalent in the 2000’s and were falling out of popularity by the early 2010’s. So, what is Flash?

Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash and Adobe Flash, currently Adobe Animate) is a vector art program which allows programming web apps using the ActionScript language. Those apps are mostly games - and therefore - Flash games. They are viewed using the Flash Player, which is (or… was) available for most major operating systems.

Part Two - Rise

Since Flash games were a very novel concept and the internet was just gaining popularity at the time, website owners wanted to make their websites as quirky and shiny as possible, and Flash - was the perfect candidate. ActionScript had easy, JavaScript-like syntax and was integrated into Flash, making games easy and fun to make. That created an opportunity for regular Joes to create fun and amazing games without requiring advanced knowledge in hard languages with relatively scarce documentation. That resulted in more than 60% of websites containing some kind of Flash objects at its peak!

Part Three - Fall

The earliest thing to suggest Flash’s demise was Apple deciding not to support it on the newly-released iPhone in 2007. Steve Jobs wrote an open letter saying that Flash lacked security and that it was proprietary, while standards with rising popularity like HTML5 were secure and open.

By 2011, nearly 50% of websites supported Flash, and by 2016, the number has dwindled to ~10%. It all came to an end when Adobe announced they’d be dropping support for Flash Player in 2020. That means that any unarchived Flash game websites will shut down and their contents be lost forever.

It wasn’t perfect, as zero-day exploits were constantly found, but it was a big part of the childhoods of millions of kids and brought happiness to them, me included. It’s sad to see it go, but all things must come to an end.

Goodbye Flash, you served us well.