Adobe Flash Vs. Unity: The Near Future Of Hardware Accelerated Web Games

There is an article at gamasutra about Flash vs. Unity for the future of web 3d games.  But it really is the future of true, hardware accelerated gaming, applications and interactives, not just 3d but massive, immersive 2d+3d works/projects on the web and available via browser.

Adobe, or Macromedia previously, owned 3d games with Director (8.5 with Shockwave3d) for a time, but that was really before mainstream was ready (2000-2001-ish).  There was a lack of computers with dedicated video cards and GPUs.  Today, even the bottom line computers have a decent video card. Also, the surge in mobile and the need for native level access to graphics hardware has spawned this new battle (Thanks Apple!).

Unity has the pipeline, 3d and has been doing that well since 2005/6. They emerged from Director and even have some members of the Director team working at Unity.  Adobe is just getting back into this, they dropped Director (or left it wavering) and are now going to attack on the Flash level not just against Unity but to hardware accelerate it for mobile and better video playback hopefully (they currently hardware accelerate scaled video to full screen).

Like the Silverlight vs. Flash product competition, Unity vs. Flash is actually a good thing for developers and both platforms.  With Torque3d wavering, html5 and WebGL more than a year out (and WebGL maybe 2-3) for broad mainstream support (I am looking at you IE), this is the time for Flash to move on this and Unity to keep going they way they have.  Hardware acceleration makes these plugins relevant and ahead of the current standards emerging in html5 and WebGL.

I love using both tools and they have come a long way since painful Director lingo/w3d/plugin hell for hardware accelerated gaming, apps and interactives. The gaming industry and web are merging, these two products should get a good portion of that projected $87-billion total game market’s annual revenue in five years, as investment advisor Digi-Capital predicts.

It is also a great time to be a developer having these companies vie for developer support.  It is exciting that hardware acceleration, 3d games, and widening game industry are all emerging and will be a big thing for the next few years at a minimum.

It is finally time to kick it up a notch. Game on!

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  • Dirk Krause

    Sorry – Adobe lost the 3D war a couple of years ago. They can’t even compile Shockwave3D anymore, and you explained why.

    This is rather Unity3D (alive and kicking – rocking!!) versus WebGL (emerging pretty fast):

    Great Article!

    – Dirk

    PS: It’s sad to see Torque go down.

    • drawcode

      I agree WebGL will eventually win (maybe Unity and Flash will target that or take advantage of that then). But until all browsers have the capability to run it without reinstalling the browser the plugin still rules the day. When WebGL is finally in IE, that is really the last stand, then the plugins will have to be ahead and doing things like AR, Kinect type stuff, staying ahead to be relevant or they will be surpassed. I have great hopes for html5 and WebGL and hardware acceleration really changing the capabilities of browsers and changing/expanding the game industry in ways never before seen.

      • RIchD

        I disagree.The only way anything like WebGL will “win” (whatever that means), is if each and every browser can render the content the same exact way, pixel by pixel. If history can teach us anything it’s that browsers have done an abysmal job in the past 10 years of supporting a “standard”. I just don’t buy the whole html5, WebGL “take over the world mentality”. I don’t mean this to be disrespectful, but it seems like many of the hypsters are too young to even realize that the browser developers have fell short time and time again, and these empty promises to support standards should be taken with a grain of salt.

  • Jarrad

    Unity needs to support linux to stay in the game, at the moment they have 0 support. You might scoff at this, but look at the stats of the latest humble indie bundle, stats aside, its the web it shouldnt matter what os your running.

    WebGL is just around the corner(firefox 4 releases with in in Febuary, chrome will probably do so sooner), and I’m actually enjoying using it. IE users can install chrome frame.

    I disagree with Dirk, Flash has a huge install base, and the implementation looks great – I just wish they would let us start playing with it now.

    • drawcode

      I agree WebGL is alot of fun and it is finally getting into the main browsers releases rather than running in nightly builds. This is great! But until IE is on board it might be a hard sell. I for one will be developing for it but convincing clients or game portals to use it is another story. Kongregate for instance just started supporting Unity games ( && So the market has to really catch up and the capabilities of browsers are still about 1-2 years out before game on there…

      As for linux, that is one area where WebGL will help browser gaming on *nix. It may also spur Adobe and Unity to make *nix players.

      • Jarrad

        Absolutely agree with you there, Im actually trying to get Unity 3 working under WINE at the moment – it’s now at bronze status and the main window works

        Also I just moved to linux(ubuntu) and installed Adobes 10.3 64 bit beta player in chrome and it runs REALLY well, 10 points to gryffindor there :)

        Im so torn between webgl and flash atm :(

  • 353345ewtew
  • John Williams

    he Flash format of Adobe (formerly Macromedia) became a standard on the Web. It makes it possible to add graphic applications to the navigator, once downloaded the plugin. It is also used for Web applications, in particular by the Laszlo framework.