Adobe is looking to be the go-to resource for gaming with updated versions of Flash Player and AIR, which now support 3D gaming and boast big performance improvements. Flash Player 11 and AIR 3, which will be available in early October, will be 3D-enabled for the first time, and will offer 1,000 times faster graphics rendering performance through hardware acceleration.
What this means is that Adobe is positioning itself to enable a host of gorgeous looking games that work on a variety of platforms, from the Web and desktop to mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and Android. Gaming companies like Zynga will be able to build much more robust web-based games using Flash and developers can build out more polished mobile applications for platforms like iOS using AIR, which is a superset of Flash. Flash developers are able to build for iOS by recompiling AIR apps to work natively on iPhones and iPads.
The improvements will work first on Macs, PCs and connected TVs, which will be able to support 60 frames per second rendering for what Adobe calls “console quality” gaming. Mobile platforms will get a prerelease of the technology with a production release expected in the near future.
Adobe is looking to keep Flash relevant in a world that seems to be moving on. Apple has banned Flash, and Microsoft announced that its Metro-style version of Internet Explorer 10 that will ship with Windows 8 won’t support plug-ins. By improving the performance of Flash and AIR, Adobe is looking to remain a vital technology provider through gaming. And it’s hoping that as developers target multiple platforms, they’ll appreciate being able to use one set of tools to accomplish that.
In addition to the performance improvements, Flash 11 and AIR 3 will provide:
- AIR native extensions that allow developers to tap into unique device hardware and software to access things like device data, vibration control, magnetometers, light sensors, dual screens and near field communications.
- A captive runtime for AIR so users can automatically download AIR 3 when they download an application.
- HD quality videos within iOS apps using H.264 decoding.
- Support for rentals and subscriptions using using Adobe Flash Access and Adobe Pass.
Currently, 70 percent of games on the web, and 9 out of ten games on Facebook are built on Flash, Adobe said. Adobe said it expects more than 200 million smartphones and tablets to support Flash-based applications via Adobe AIR and by 2015, it projects 1 billion devices will support Adobe AIR.
Adobe has recently changed its position on delivering Flash-based video to iOS devices by offering a new version of Flash Media Server that will repackage content automatically for Apple’s mobile products. While Flash video may be waning, Adobe can still try to push its tools by focusing on gaming. And that’s what it seems to be doing with the updated Flash Player and AIR.