Remember Dec. 31, 1999? Everyone was very worried that all of our computers switching to the year 2000 would wreak havoc on basically everything. It was a very big deal 20 years ago (and, to be fair, the Y2K bug did wreak havoc on some things). Well, anyone who either missed out on the Y2K bug worry or who is wanting to relive some of that panic can look forward to Dec. 31, 2020, when another big change is coming to our technological lives.
Why? Because Adobe Flash is going away forever! OK, so it’s not quite as dramatic as the whole Y2K thing, but it is kind of exciting, right? Adobe Flash has been a dominant platform for years (though less so since HTML5 has gained popularity), and now? It’s leaving for good. Or, at least, Adobe will officially stop updating and distributing it after that date. But why is Flash going away? Here’s what you need to know.
Why is Flash going away?
Those of us who were in school in the early 2000s will probably remember playing hours of Flash games in the computer lab. Fancy Pants Adventure. The World’s Hardest Game. Line Rider. It was a sweet time of playing weird, simple games with no thought of microtransactions, ads, or subscriptions.
These days, plenty of sites still use Flash, but HTML5 has become the industry standard for several reasons. One of the big reasons developers no longer use Flash is due to security concerns. They’ve plagued the multimedia software platform for years. A 2017 article from Wired likens Adobe Flash to “a heavily trafficked bridge that spontaneously gives way every few months.” Not exactly a platform you want to rely too heavily upon.
Flash also requires significant resources to maintain. In 2010, Apple restricted the use of Flash on iOS because it negatively impacted battery life, performed poorly on mobile, and wasn’t necessary for online content. When Apple refused to adopt the platform for its smartphone or tablet devices, it was one of the final nails in Flash’s coffin. In 2017, Adobe announced its end-of-life plans for Flash: They would no longer support the platform after 2020.
You can really take your pick from several reasons why Flash is going away, but it all boils down to the fact that Flash is no longer the best multimedia software platform on the market. HTML5 can do everything Flash can, as well as many things Flash cannot, and it does all of them better. It’s an easy call (albeit a sad one) for Adobe to make.
Don’t worry — you can still play your favorite Flash games.
Luckily, just because Adobe will no longer be updating or supporting Flash (nor will Flash support exist on Firefox or Chrome), doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some of your favorite Flash-based content. Back when Adobe first announced it’d be sunsetting Flash, Ben Latimore, a Flash game enthusiast from Australia, set out to archive as many Flash games as possible.
The result is BlueMaxima’s Flashpoint, a collection of (so far) more than 49,000 Flash games curated by more than 100 individuals who want to make sure we can all still play Bloons after Flash kicks the techno-bucket at the end of this year. Thank goodness.
Since Flash has been slowly disappearing from most browsers over the past few years, many people probably won’t notice much of a difference when it’s officially gone after the end of the year. Most likely, there will come a time when you realize that it’s been a while since you last got a message to update Adobe Flash. You might think about it for a few seconds, and then continue scrolling through your feeds. We’ll always have QWOP, though.