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How Xsolla Launcher can save an entire generation of browser games

Video game commerce company steps in to rescue under-threat browser games after Adobe discontinues Flash

This article details how the new Xsolla launcher can be used to save Flash titles. For more details on the launcher click here.

In January this year, Adobe shut down Flash and thousands of games lost their audience overnight.

Flash is the software that helped define an entire era of internet content creation. From animations and websites to fully-fledged MMOs. When Flash closed in January, so did a huge number of websites and media.

Some developers of browser-based Flash games were able to port their game to HTML5, but for many it was simply too expensive and too complex to do. There is no smooth and easy process to migrate Flash games, and there are a lack of specialists who know how to handle both Flash and HTML5/Unity. There are some studios offering these services, but due to the Flash shutdown, they've become overloaded. And the sheer cost of making fundamental game and engine changes means that the cost of migration is expensive.

As a result, many games were just unable to be ported, and the teams supporting them have lost their source of income. Whereas the bigger teams can transition, the smaller ones face the prospect of going under and laying off staff if they were operating a games-as-a-service Flash game.

This is where Xsolla came in. The game development services provider has a solution called the Xsolla Launcher, which has the capability of saving any Flash game in just six weeks.

The Xsolla Launcher effectively allows developers to create their own game launcher serving as a hub and community tool, providing news, offers, and other games to users.. The launcher can also be placed within Steam games, and allows developers to have complete control of what is displayed at launch. Basically, they can create an environment for their Flash game without the need for the browser. It allows the studio to keep their game alive, save their audience and protect their revenue streams, and give them more time to find the experts they need to migrate the game to HTML 5 or Unity.

The Xsolla Launcher in action

Vavel Games was a Xsolla partner company facing trouble with the impending Flash shutdown. The firm is behind Imperium: Galactic War, which it acquired in 2017 from Aftershock. Xsolla had previously helped Vavel with the title, and now it was working with the team by offering new features such as frictionless log-ins.

"To a wide extent we were unaffected as most of our players have transitioned to a downloadable client," says Vavel Games CCO, Mikolaj Marcisz. "It was a really nice surprise to get a message from our partners at Xsolla in December that their launcher offers the same type of capability with a bunch of awesome bonuses. We integrated IGW with Xsolla Launcher which we called Vavel Dragon Launcher and rolled it out a few days later."

The firm already had a standalone version of the game, but the Xsolla Launcher was a clear choice for them going forward. It made sense as they were already integrated with the Xsolla Business Engine, using the firm's login, payments, landing page and partner network.

Additionally, with Vavel preparing to roll out a Unity 3D version of IGW, the Xsolla Launcher will allow the studio to simply swap the build, without needing players to visit a website and download the newest version.

After Xsolla got involved helping studios impacted by the end of the Flash era, it became apparent that the Xsolla Launcher could prove instrumental in saving countless Flash games which would otherwise be lost to the void.

"We are talking about over 250,000 games that can not be accessed by the wider community. Many of them are now abandoned and will likely never be ported"

"It's really sad that consumers are forced not to use Flash," says Marcisz. "I understand the reasons Adobe and other tech giants would want to do that but in the end it's something that takes away from the people. Forcing developers to transition to a newer technology is one thing, but discarding over 20 years worth of millions of video games and apps feels like a massive, irreversible blow to the internet culture.

"We are talking about over 250,000 games that can not be accessed by the wider player community. Many of them are now abandoned by their creators and will likely never be ported to something like Unity 3D. Source codes being lost, studios disbanded, developers often dead -- those games will never be ported and the internet community will suffer the loss."

Given that many developers don't have the resources to port their game over to HTML5, Xsolla wants to spread the word about the solution provided by Xsolla Launcher.

"I have a lot of friends from the indie developers community," says Nikolay Bondarenko, Xsolla Launcher product owner. "Many of them have nice games on platforms like Kongregate. The game designer in my own studio is one of these guys. Many of them can't handle the porting from one platform (Flash) to another (HTML5 with Unity as an engine for example). For different reasons but with the same outcome - these games are dead now."

Xsolla is primed to help save any of these potentially lost games, providing developers with their own bespoke launcher. As Bondarenko notes, developers can still work on porting their game to HTML5, but with the launcher they are able to continue providing access to their games immediately. The team can also offer a special solution for channeling web games, so they can access tens of other games from their own platform.

It could be useful to improve retention while you are working on a port or your new game," he adds.

Importantly, the Xsolla Launcher does not require developers to be integrated with other Xsolla services. So if you're a games developer with a Flash title in need of rescuing, check out the Xsolla Launcher by clicking through to this product page.