“Premium Features” in Flash Player, and what it means

by troy on March 29, 2012

Try to distill in the plainest non marketing terms what this means: Adobe is now your new rev share partner congrats! they get paid 9% if you get success by doing what?...umm...

What just happened:

If you want to create console quality experiences in flash, Adobe has created a new tollbooth/firewall inside the WEB Flash player (possibly projector too) that if BOTH  stage3d AND alchemy are used will trigger this new license, and you will have to pay for it.  This is a way of segmenting the use of 'conventional' flash from what exists today to the 'console quality' level access that is possible when both are used.

NOTE: If you are targetting AIR, this does not affect you (yet).  My guess as odds are you are already paying Apple, Android marketplace and can't afford another 9% mouth to feed.

NOTE: if you are not using hardware acceleration Stage3d, it does not affect you.

To review:

Hardware accelerated Stage3d is primarily used just for complex 3d game graphics, though some are using Starling to do fast 2d rendering, again most likely with goals of console quality game engines.

Alchemy is primary used for C/C++ code ported to run inside actionscript, common use: physics, image compression, and mp3 compression.  All these things are possible but potentially impractical without the 10x-100x Alchemy speed boost.


The Breakdown

The Breakdown Premium Features vs Free

Stage3d + Alchemy
No +  No => no impact, same game as most flash games today
Yes + No => no impact, fancy 3d games, just sluggish physics/media processing.
No + Yes => no impact, 2d games, can do jpg/png/mp3 compression.
Yes + Yes => console level quality, subject to licensing restrictions

Starting with Flash Player 11.2, developers will see a notification watermark in the debug version of Flash Player  if their content uses both of these APIs, informing them that they will need to obtain a license.

They say that they believe very few if any apps out there will be affected by this and are offering exemptions for a bit. So get em now if you need em.

The player is now becoming a DRM license engine, a private network running on the normal web like Valve's Steam.  They are planning other premium features to fit into this, like instant startup, local cache (probably), bookmarking levels etc.  Basically the more your desktop/laptop and browser do what your xbox/Ps3 do the more it fits into the premium category Adobe wants a piece of for making possible, without any risk on their part in actually creating your content, marketing etc.

If you don't pay, right now they only say that rendering will fall back to software based Stage3D. But how and when...being overly dramatic, I assume your code will have a thumbprint (necessary for caching and version..flex's big libs already does this) and ultimately if your bills/papers aren't in order with Adobe, potentially your content may suddenly stop working on the web. Which is kinda scary if you've ever had Google/Apple take down your app/website before, except this happens ON YOUR SITE and ON YOUR/YOUR USERS DESKTOP, and you are footed with the customer support calls when your game suddenly turns to molasses.

From the important to read FAQ

Net revenue is calculated as revenue after taxes, payment processing fees, and social network platform fees are subtracted. Revenues subject to the revenue share include application sales, in-app purchases, subscription fees, sponsorship, and advertising fees received for advertising in, or related to the application.

Meaning after you pay facebook, they want 9% of ALL money you get pre your production costs.  HOW exactly they can find this out is beyond me, most companies have a hard enough time tracking this, and things like Ads end up.  I believe this is calculated as net LIFETIME revenue as well.

WHY:

From Unity 3d's announcement

We see this as Flash positioning itself alongside other well known distribution channels: make money through the App Store, Apple takes a share. Make money through the Android Market place, Google takes a share. Make money through Flash, Adobe takes a share.

I agree. Adobe has lost control of the tool chain by opening up the flex compiler, and giving that away, and the decreasing need/feature set for the Flash IDE with bigger games being built in other more game friendly tooling front ends,  and are attempting to follow Apple/Google into a subscription app + content tollbooth company instead of a desktop tool company.

Some other links worth reading.

http://ncannasse.fr/blog/adobe_announce_speed_tax

http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplayer/articles/premium-features.html

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