Who would have thought that Adobe's treasured Flash technology, which was responsible for millions of addictive games (not to mention YouTube's beginnings) will be sentenced to digital death within the following few years? And yet, this is exactly what will happen!
It was a good two decades run for the world's most popular browser plug-in, but the truth is that most security risks and browser crashes were caused by Flash. Sites like Kongregate may be in serious trouble, being forced to dump all those nice Flash games, unless they find a method to run them in a HTML5-based emulator.
Yes, some of our favorite Flash-based games will stop working! But this is the least important problem that we have got. Besides games, Flash was (and still is) used for "serious" stuff as well. Many businesses have been built using Flash-based applications, and many training modules that are still used in schools today utilize Flash-based wrappers to make their training videos easily accessible to students.
What about old websites, which are still using Flash-based animations and modules? They'll probably stop working for good within a year or two!
The good news is that most browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge will start asking for permission to run Flash modules soon, rather than executing them by default. It's a gentle way of reminding us to either upgrade our Flash-based apps, or dump them for good. By 2019, most browsers will disable the Flash plug-in completely, provided that it is installed. Finally, Internet browsers will refuse to run any Flash module by 2020.
It's true that Flash was a great invention back in the day, because it has allowed animation and interactivity to explode on the web. People have used this programming language to create applications that allowed anyone to use webcams and multimedia features that simply weren't possible using other app IDEs.
Still, the very ability of running full applications in browsers has led to serious security problems. In fact, the problems were so serious that Steve Jobs didn't allow Flash to run on the iPhone or iPad, in a period when there wasn't any serious alternative to it. I can still remember that I was using a third-party browser, which was converting Flash-based videos to a different format, to be able to see them on my iPhone.
Frankly, today we don't need Flash anymore. We've got WebGL and HTML5, which make it really easy to create complex multimedia applications and games, and then run them in a regular browser without needing to install a third-party plug-in.
So, there is hope for sites like Kongregate, who will have to dump many of their lovely games. In fact, they been hosting games that were built using Java and Shockwave since 2007! The Unity WebPlayer is another interesting option; the Unity game engine has gained a lot of ground lately, being used by high-end studios such as Ubisoft, as well as by indie game developers, who are creating fantastic products with it.
Actually, it looks like Unity will soon support direct HTML5 export. And since all modern browsers offer full HTML 5 support, this means that we may soon be able to play great-looking games in our browsers without installing any additional plug-ins.