Are You Ready for the End of the Flash Browser Plug-In in 2020?

Filed under: Web — Simon Walklate

The End is Nigh

It’s been on the cards for a number of years now, with Adobe essentially giving up on getting the Flash plug-in onto mobile devices some time ago and embracing HTML5. In fact it seems like forever since we’ve created any Flash based content for the web. But now the deadline of the end of 2020 has been announced. After this date Flash content will cease to work in the web browser.

The major browser vendors are also following this same timeline, in phasing out access to Flash content. Even the ones that have incorporated Flash technology directly into their browsers (removing the need for a plug-in installation) are not exempt. So there will be no continued support for Flash beyond 2020 in Google Chrome either, despite there being no need for the Flash plugin-in there.

This really is the end of the road for web based Flash. No web based Flash content will work after the cut-off.

That gives you three short years to plan and execute the conversion of your Flash based content to HTML5. Either convert it, or lose it after Flash is gone.

What Content is Affected?

Short answer is anything on the web that requires the installation of the Adobe Flash plugin.

Any remaining Flash content you care about is likely to be anything you consider “evergreen”. It’ll still get enough traffic/use to justify it’s existence and ultimately the time, effort and budget to convert and keep it. This could be:

  • Marketing content – Any web based multimedia content that helps drive traffic or get links/social shares. This could be anything from a simple interactive widget to a complex web based game.
  • Training/e-learning content – Web based multimedia content either for conducting training programmes as part of your business needs to be addressed.

Basically, any Flash content that is useful/entertaining to your users, that isn’t time specific and still provides value to your business, should be prioritised. Especially if you have lots of content that you need to keep, starting to audit and planning for content update and replacement is essential now.

The End of Flash Games

This will also mean the end of an era in web games development. Any web based games built in Flash will need to be converted and replaced or taken down before the deadline.

This might not sound like a huge big deal, but it is. Most of the big games companies on Facebook are still to this day using Flash based versions of their games for desktop computer users. These will need to go through the potentially expensive and time consuming process of being converted to HTML5, or taken down.

This doesn’t just apply to big games companies though. If you’ve had any Flash based games developed in the past now is the perfect time to start planning to get them converted. Building a brand new version using modern web standards also gives you a great opportunity for an update/redesign to raise the quality of any dated games.

A Great Opportunity to Finally Go Mobile Compatible

If you’ve been putting off the conversion process, now is a great time to think again. Converting Flash content to HTML5 will future-proof it for years to come and finally allow mobile users to access your content on their devices. This will further increase the reach and ultimately value of your content.

Budget and Time

Obviously, the more Flash content you want to keep, after the deadline, the more time and budget you’re going to need. This is why you must start assessing and planning now. If you have lots of content to convert, it could be a monumental task. Don’t put it off until 6 months before, because there may not be time then to get the work done. Also, if you start now, you’ve got three years to spread the cost over.

Does This Affect Adobe AIR?

There’s been a fair amount of confusion over the name Flash in relation to the development tools and the web based deployment platform. Because of this Adobe even rebranded the tools from “Adobe Flash Pro” to “Adobe Animate” recently. The tools will continue to exist long after Flash is gone from the web. (In fact we still use Flash Pro tools to help with animation and visual asset creation for our HTML5 games).

The Adobe AIR platform for building mobile and desktop PC apps will still exist and be updated and supported by Adobe. You’ll still essentially be able to use “Flash” technology to create stand-alone application builds for computers and mobile devices. No existing Adobe AIR based apps will be effected. It’s just the web based component that will no longer exist.

Should I Stop Creating New Flash Content?

There’s no easy answer to this. In general though (with a few exceptions), I would say you need to steer away from creating new Flash content for the Flash web player, if you haven’t already.

There are some limited instances where Flash content may still make sense in the short term though. For instance if you’re creating content with a relatively short shelf life (e.g. for a marketing campaign and needs to be accessible to older, HTML5 incompatible browsers on desktop computers only). These instances will be few and far between at this point though. So 9 times out of 10 you should use HTML5 for all new content going forward, in order to future-proof it.

What Now?

We’d highly recommended that you start thinking about and auditing any Flash content you may have ASAP. Prioritise your most valuable assets and start allocating budget to convert any critical Flash based content (that you know will definitely still be valuable to you in three years time).

Three years sounds like a long time, but it really isn’t. Especially if you have lots of Flash content, the conversion process can be extremely time consuming. So start now.

5 Ways Games Can Help Your Business

Filed under: Serious Games — Simon Walklate

Video games are still often seen as a frivolous pastime and the domain of kids. But did you realise they can and are being used for serious applications by businesses all over the world? Helping them not only accomplish a multitude of goals, but accomplish them more effectively. So the big question is, are you using games in your business and if not, why not?

Games can be used to make training fun, help you engage with customers and clients (past, present and future), increase productivity and more. With options of deploying online, on mobile devices, via PC hardware and more. I’ve written this article to highlight and give you a flavour of the top 5 ways your business can start using games.

1) Marketing, Advertising & PR

In the offline world, traditional advertising methods are still the go-to way to get the word out about your company. Online, Pay-Per-Click advertising is still the number one method of generating highly targeted traffic. But, what happens after people find you? How do you go about keeping visitors engaged on your business website, as well as giving them a reason to return.

Content marketing is really gaining more traction than ever in the online world. It essential serves two main purposes, providing “sticky” content to keep visitors engaged on your website and helping promote your website and business by getting links and social shares that ultimately drive traffic.

Getting natural links and social shares is more important than ever to any company looking to get more exposure online. When most businesses think about a premium piece of content to help their SEO and PR, they think video. But what many don’t realise is there’s a much more engaging alternative available to businesses for a comparable production cost.

The problem with video is it’s only ever a passive medium, your audience doesn’t really participate. This can make scope for re-engagement limited – once they’ve seen a video, it’s unlikely to offer anything new on repeat views. Then there’s the problem of so many businesses using video now that it’s become increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.

Despite the fact they’ve been around for at least a decade and their use is growing, branded games used for marketing are still only being used by a minute percentage of companies. Unlike video, they’re interactive, so the viewer directly participates. They also offer an incentive to go back for repeat plays (beat that high score, complete that level, etc.), so overcome most of the drawbacks of corporate videos.

2) Business Promotions

When most people think business promotions, seasonal or otherwise, they think traditional physical promotional items and corporate gifts. Printed T-shirts, pens, mugs, corporate greetings cards and the like. Although they serve their purpose, are these really helping your business stand out in a crowded marketplace?

When sent out to customers and clients past, present and (hopefully) future, an interactive promotional game can really help your company stand out and add the wow factor to your business promotions.

3) Employee Training

Whether it’s learning basic business practices or complex internal systems in the workplace, employee training isn’t usually the most exciting of things. Serious games and simulations provide a unique way to break through that and make corporate training fun, providing a truly engaging medium to get the information across and help it sink in.

4) Staff Rewards to Boost Morale in the Workplace

It’s been proven time and time again, a happy staff is a productive staff. If you want to go the extra mile in injecting a bit of fun into the workplace, creating a branded game for employees to play can be a great reward around Christmas time, any other significant occasion, or just for no reason at all.

It can live on your company intranet (behind an employee login), up on the web (to play outside the workplace), or even make a great, fun addition to your break area.

5) Exhibitions and Live Events

If you’re the kind of business that exhibits at a lot of trade shows or use live events and experiential marketing to promote your products and services, you’ve probably tried to come up with ideas of how to stand out and draw a crowd.

A game on your exhibition stand could very well be the solution – providing an enjoyable, free experience and encouraging competition over the course of the event with a high score board. Plus, you can use it at multiple events to maximise the benefit for your business and make sure you get your money’s worth.