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Twitch ditches Flash for HTML5

Online streaming service drives yet another nail into Flash's coffin

Twitch has started the process that will see its video player transition away from Flash, at a time when prominent figures in the world of tech are calling for an end to Adobe's resource-hungry multimedia platform.

As stated by a Twitch engineer in a recent Reddit post, the video player does "everything in Flash right now," and migrating every feature to HTML5 for such a huge and diverse user-base is no small task. The redesigned player launched today features HTML5 UI controls over Flash video.

"This is an important step to releasing the much-anticipated full HTML5 player," the company stated in a blog post to accompany the launch. "You'll begin to see the new player on channel pages first. As previously mentioned, this is a gradual roll out. If you are not part of our initial pool of users, please be patient as we release the redesigned player at a steady pace."

The full HTML5 player has no set release date, but there is a desire within the company to launch it as soon as possible. The Twitch engineer claimed that the unoptimised HTML5 player, "uses a third of the cpu and a fraction of the memory compared to our current Flash player."

Performance has long been the argument against Flash as a ubiquitous technology for online media, dating back to scathing criticism from Apple's Steve Jobs and beyond. But 2015 has been a notably rough year, starting with YouTube's decision to default to HTML5 on its videos following a series of technical improvements over the last few years.

Earlier this month, Alex Stamos marked the start of his tenure as Facebook's chief security officer by calling for a definitive end to Flash on Twitter.

Adobe has given no indication that it will acquiesce to Stamos' request, but its reasons to resist seem to diminish with every passing month. This report from the Wall Street Journal indicated that less than 5 per cent of Adobe's revenue comes from Flash, and it has embraced open standards technologies for its all-important Creative Cloud tools.

Of course, Flash has been a very productive platform for game developers, as anyone with an internet connection and a few hours to kill will probably agree. HTML5 has been a coming force in web game development for many years now, but it hasn't yet fulfilled what many see as its huge potential.

For an example of a developer working on the bleeding edge of HTML5 games look no further than China's Wozlla, which raised $2 million in funding earlier this month.

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Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.