On May 9th, Google announced its intention to deprecate Flash in favor of implementing HTML5 by default on its Chrome web browser. After so long being the mainstay of rich media, interactive websites and polished presentations, Flash could finally be moving over for a successor. It’s true that HTML 5 has several aspects to recommend it over Flash; it’s far more lightweight, making it more efficient for load times and power usage. On top of that, despite Adobe’s power and the maturity of the program, Flash continues to have perennial security issues.
But game developers feel that a very important aspect of Flash is being overlooked here. I talked to Ruben Gerlach, CEO of Spiele-Palast GmbH, based in Berlin. He does not share Google’s opinion that HTML 5 is ready to take over from Flash.
The future of web gaming
In its proposal, to take effect by Q4 2016, Google says “We will continue to work closely with Adobe and other browser vendors to keep moving the web platform forward, in particular paying close attention to web gaming,” so there may be something in the works to address concerns like these. Ruben remains skeptical, however:
“When HTML5 began its rise,” he continued, “people were always assuring that ‘soon’ HTML5 would be ready for games. I heard this all the time in the last couple of years. Today it is still not ready and people are still assuring that soon we will be there. Even if that would be true, we have a business today, not tomorrow.”
HTML5 exporter for Flash?
As it stands, the Google proposals will only affect Flash on Google Chrome. Flash deployed on mobile platforms will still work the same way, at least for now, but Google’s influence must not be underestimated. When asked about the future of Flash as a multi-platform development tool, Ruben speculated:
“A dream come true would be an HTML5 exporter for Flash content, similar to what we already have when exporting to Android or iOS. That way everyone would be pleased.” […] “Adobe is already offering HTML5 exporters for simple Flash banners or animations, so if it was powerful enough, they would probably have announced a full exporter already.”
It’s hard to deny that Flash is showing its age. Google seems to think that HTML 5 is ready to take the throne, but when it comes to game development they can expect to face staunch opposition until better provisions are made for complex programs. “I still have my hopes that Google realizes they are making a mistake with Flash,” Ruben told me. “If HTML5 was a better alternative to Flash, they would not have to force anyone.”