Adobe Flash is now officially dead. Adobe discontinued support for the global variant of Flash Player on December 31, 2020, and as of January 12, 2021, content execution is completely blocked on Flash Player.
Flash was a mainstay of the Internet in the 2000s and, over a period of 20 years, has built a gaming legacy of unprecedented proportions, spanning tens of thousands of games.
Now, as websites hosting Flash content disappear, many people are wondering how to play Flash games without Flash.
In this article, we list a handful of projects that let you play Flash games without Flash.
The death of a historical artifact
Adobe Flash’s death shouldn’t have been a surprise. Although Adobe stopped supporting Flash on December 31, 2020, the first nail in Flash’s coffin was Apple’s decision not to support it on its family of iOS devices in 2010. In one open letter explaining Apple’s decision, Steve Jobs criticized performance, power consumption and security vulnerabilities.
Apple might have been right, as were many publications that criticized Flash’s many flaws. However, in 1998 when Flash was first released, it completely revolutionized the internet.
As a lightweight animation tool, it helped transform the Internet’s static textual interface into the interactive portal it has become today. It wouldn’t take long to get noticed by the gaming community, who would start using it to create video games.
A gaming legacy that spans 20 years
In 2000, Tom Fulp launched his automated Flash game portal, Newgrounds, which instantly accepts, processes and publishes Flash content to the Internet. It was fundamental to the development of Flash games.
Suddenly, with the click of a mouse, you can load, view and interact with games and Flash content. And that was five years before YouTube launched.
By the time Adobe stopped supporting Flash, tens of thousands of games had been developed using this technology. Even Nintendo had launched its own Flash game, Mission in Snowdriftland as a way to advertise other Nintendo products.
But now that Adobe has disconnected Flash, its unparalleled gaming legacy is in serious danger of being lost forever. And that certainly would be the case if it weren’t for a number of projects whose main goal is to allow you to play flash games without a Flash player even after Flash has been declared dead and buried.
How to play Flash games without Adobe Flash Player
The following projects aim to preserve Flash games, ensuring that we can all continue to play Flash games without Flash into the future:
1. The contentious area of BlueMaxima
Efforts to save Flash games began with individual contributions from user Medium @ bluemaximax011, aka Ben Latimore. After Latimore published an article on Medium that drew very positive attention to its efforts, Flashpoint became the international online game preservation project that it is now.
Latimore’s efforts began in January 2018, with the goal of getting past the loss of content before Flash’s death. Since then, Flashpoint has grown into a preservation project for web games and animations created for various plugins, frameworks and internet standards. Since version 9.0, Flashpoint has recorded over 70,000 games and 8,000 animations running on various platforms.
Flashpoint from BlueMaxima uses a custom launcher, Apache, and its own application, Flashpoint Secure Player. With these, you can play web media in a fast and user-friendly environment without leaving permanent changes or security holes on your computer.
Flashpoint offers two versions of its software: Ultimate, a full-size 478 GB version that contains every media item recorded by the project in an offline-ready format, and Infinite, a smaller 500MB version that lets you download and play content at will.
2. Flash game archives
The Flash Games Archive is a free archive of Flash games that you can play locally on your computer at any time. Its stated purpose is to preserve Flash games before they are completely lost.
This preservation project is led by the team of Canadian developers Dragom. The Flash Game Archive is a non-profit and free project, but if you join the Flash Game Archive Patreon, you can access all game additions earlier and the option to request new games to be added.
The Flash Game Archive offers you the possibility of continuing to play Flash games without a Flash player by simply downloading its client. Flash Game Archive software allows you to download Flash games on demand and play them offline. Games and other media are stored in a data center, with over 1,888 games currently on file.
3. Internet archives
The Internet Archive, the not-for-profit digital library of websites and other famous cultural artifacts for the Wayback Machine, now emulates games and Flash content. In keeping with its “access drives preservation” principle, the Internet Archive initiated the Emularity Project, which powers a wide variety of older software.
On a related note, using the Ruffle Flash emulator, the site added flash support to its emularity system. Ruffle is a Flash player emulator built into the Rust programming language.
Together, Internet Archive and Ruffle allow you to play Flash media as you did before, even after December 2020. The system works in all browsers that support Webassembly and does not require the installation of Adobe Flash Player.
4. New lands
Newgrounds, the website and online entertainment company (yes, the same one that helped propel Flash games to greatness), is another organization helping to preserve Flash games. Having hosted more than 20 years of content built using Flash, it intends to continue to do so once browsers stop supporting the Flash plug-in.
With the idea of preserving Flash games and content, Newgrounds has developed its own Flash player. Although it depends on the Adobe Flash plugin and you are asked to install it.
The Newgrounds player was designed to create a “seamless browsing experience on Newgrounds, while preserving the ability to enjoy all of our classic content,” according to its own download page.
Ensuring Flash Games Will Live Forever
After more than 20 years of service, Flash’s long awaited death is finally here. For years users and developers have complained endlessly about Flash’s vulnerabilities and security flaws, but none of this will ever erase the fact that this same technology has helped the Internet to become the interactive tool it is it is today.
Not only that, Flash practically spawned web games and helped one of the biggest indie gaming scenes to emerge out of nowhere. The number of games created using Flash over its 20-year history is so vast that it far exceeds the number of games created for any other platform.
This is a very large part of video game history that we are talking about. And that’s precisely why we should all be grateful to these projects that work hard to preserve this unprecedented slice of internet history.
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