2021 marks the end of an era in digital entertainment, with the news that Adobe’s Flash plug-in would cease to be supported on modern devices. The technology played a key role in helping publishers deliver rich media content for more than a decade, including playing a key role in the growth of the online casino sector, but huge leaps forward made by HTML5 have rendered it redundant.
In this article, we will explore the factors behind the decline and eventual removal of Flash from our web browsing experience and put the changes in the context of wider digital entertainment – especially in online casino gaming.
Laying the foundations
Flash was so successful for many years because it allowed media creators to deliver their work in a format that was accessible to slower internet connections and the less powerful processors found on devices around the turn of the century. For casino game developers, relatively complex table experiences featuring slick animations and realistic sound effects, such as the flip of the card or spin of a roulette wheel, could be delivered to players who access the platform from a dial-up connection.
This helped to support the growth of the casino sector online around the late 1990s and early 2000s and ensure that customer demand was met. Strategies still utilized to this day, such as offers, helped deliver rapid growth for the sector, but developers had to ensure they were able to deliver the product to users on slower connections.
Today’s casino sign up bonus offers like free spins, money back on losing bets, and a boost to initial deposits have helped to bring players to casino platforms in big numbers in the years that have followed, with dedicated pages helping users understand what’s available. But without Flash, those users may not have even been able to access the games during the sector’s early days.
Losing the compatibility battle
However, the acceleration in the development of HTML5 and Apple’s then-controversial decision not to support Flash on their iPhone platform marked the beginning of the end for the technology. Rendered redundant by security concerns, more powerful browsers, and network connections capable of streaming rich content.
Flash was now losing ground on the competition, but the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and subsequent proliferation of the smartphone, under Apple and Google’s leadership, would drive a further nail into the coffin. In the casino sector, developers were able to move away from Flash in favor of adopting the new technology and the plug-in’s value to the sector was irreversibly diminished.
The move to mobile also accelerated the development of technology such as 3G, which supported online connectivity without the necessity of a wi-fi signal. In turn, this drove software improvements so that standard HTML could be coded to deliver a richer online gaming experience.
The casino sector has enjoyed huge growth on the back of the smartphone boom, and developers have been able to deliver a small screen experience that doesn’t require additional plug-in downloads or a compatible handset. Native apps, for example, have taken the browser completely out of the equation for millions of players.
Though now disappearing fast in technology’s rear-view mirror, Flash indisputably played a key role in the development of the online casino sector and the wider world of online entertainment during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although its time is now up, it will be remembered fondly by many. For many, the first experience of playing casino games online was made possible by Flash and, though time moves on, many will regret the loss of the plug-in.
Some may even argue that the charm of a Flash animation, whether that’s moving chips around a board or watching the dealer shuffle the deck, cannot ever properly be recaptured. The plug-in’s role in the development of online casino gaming can also never be forgotten.