'Happy Wheels' and Other Popular Flash-Based Games Are in Danger of Shutting Down

Why is 'Happy Wheels' shutting down? The popular flash-based title's future is in jeopardy and gamers all over the world are upset.

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Jan. 3 2020, Updated 12:24 p.m. ET

happy wheels cover
Source: Fancy Force

If you're unfamiliar with the game Happy Wheels, then you probably don't understand what the big deal is behind it shutting down. It's a simple concept: a ragdoll-based physics game that has a basic premise — get your character to the finish line as they ride their vehicle of choice. You've got a dad out for a nice bike ride with his child riding in a kiddie seat on the back, you've got an older gentleman in a wheelchair, an obese woman in a motorized shopping cart, to name a few.

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They definitely don't seem like the typical protagonists you'd imagine controlling in a videogame, for sure, but that's because Happy Wheels isn't a typical game. The game's dripping with a dark sense of brutal humor. Because of the "floppy" nature of your characters, the greatest challenge in the game is controlling them and keeping your avatars from splattering themselves all over pavement, spikes, or murdersome falls from great heights.

happy wheels
Source: Fancy Force
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It's a splatter-filled gore fest that is irreverent, highly stylized, and immensely popular. Perhaps the most compelling part of the title is that it offers users the option to generate their own levels, which are deadly obstacle courses that spare none of the featured commuters' lives. And yes, that includes the father's poor child who will be dismembered horribly from a single less-than-perfect keystroke.

To give you an idea of the sheer number of gamers that are delighted by Happy Wheels worldwide, there's been over 5 million user-generated levels and over 13 billion plays of the title globally to date. This kind of popularity is difficult to ignore, and it wasn't before long that the game changed from an in-browser only title to an iOS and Android download.

But diehards loved playing the game on their PC.

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Why is Happy Wheels shutting down?

While the game will be available to download for mobile platforms, and there are plenty of clone games out there that folks put on their computers, the flash-based game won't be available to play in the near future and is, in fact, already experiencing outages depending on which browser you use or which server/website you play it on. That has more to do with Adobe suspending flash in favor of other web protocols.

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Sometime this year, Adobe Flash will cease to work on pretty much every browser. The company has already discontinued support in many stages and you may have noticed that certain software that relied on Flash (like Pixlr editor) straight-up won't work anymore. Happy Wheels, along with other popular titles like Friv and Cool Math Games, will also be on the chopping block now that Flash is going the way of Clippy.

People are so upset at the prospect of not being able to play their flash games, that they've even started petitions begging Adobe to cancel the shutdown of Flash. The main reason supporters of the web protocol don't want it to go away is mainly to "protect" the games that defined their childhoods.

Not to be un-sentimental, but nostalgia and technology rarely mix.

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screenshot from
Source: Poki

Sure they can from a product and branding perspective, but when it comes to pushing certain tech forward, holding on to outdated software solutions is just bad business. Plus, most modern websites employ the use of HTML5, a whopping 80.9% of them on the internet, in fact.

Adobe Flash doesn't really play nice with HTML5, and although developers can have their websites work with flash, it's largely considered more trouble than it's worth.

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In fact, even the staunchest "flash supporters" have ultimately decided to abandon support for the protocol and exclusively work in HTML5 environments.

So if you still want to play Happy Wheels throughout 2020, it's probably best that you just download it to play on your computer of choice, or get used to the Android and iOS versions.

If you'd like to download Happy Wheels to play on your computer you can do so here. Are you upset that you'll no longer get to play it in browser?

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