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Adobe Announce Speed Tax !

Posted on Mar 28 2012

Today Adobe announced its plans for so-called "Premium Features", check it out here

Basically, what it means is that you'll have to get a license from Adobe and pay them 9% of your net revenues if you want to use the "premium features" together with Stage3D API which allow hardware-accelerated 3D in the browser.

Sadly, instead of providing real actual "premium features" that could have appealed to AAA games developers and let independent developers continue making their games and other apps without paying Adobe Tax, the so-called "premium features" consists in one simple thing : Alchemy opcodes.

For those who don't know about it, there are two actual usages for Alchemy :

  • the Alchemy toolkit allows to convert C++ code to AVM2 Flash bytecode, and introduces additional opcodes for fast Memory access
  • these opcodes can be reused by some tools, such as Haxe flash.Memory or Joa's Apparat for AS3

Why Alchemy is so much important ? Because the AVM2 - the virtual machine that powers the flash player - is AWFULLY SLOW when it comes to memory manipulation.

As soon as you want to manipulate memory, whatever you choose : Array, Vector or even ByteArray (sic) are painfully slow compared to JavaScript or other competing technologies.

So far the Alchemy opcodes have been used as a replacement to cope with bad memory performances of AVM2, in order to speedup various tasks such as PNG encoding, Raytracing, Cryptography, Away3D Physics engine and many other tasks that just manipulate memory.

Another example of Alchemy usage is the latest technical demo of a game I've been working on : Galaxy55 is a Minecraft-like engine that absolutely needs Alchemy to build the world triangles and calculate lightning occlusion. Doing it without Alchemy would just make the game impossible since it would require more than one second to rebuild a part of the geometry when a block is changed, which occurs quite often.

A last example is Unity3D which is using Alchemy opcodes to target Flash Player.

So this is it : Adobe just made DECENT SPEED a "premium feature".

And since you really need that speed for doing (serious) Flash 3D games, it means that you will have to pay Adobe Speed Tax when you want to make a 3D game.

More important, it means that there is no hope that they will improve the slowness of the Flash Player memory, since it would then allow developers such as me or tools such as Unity3D to run 3D content without the need to get a premium license !

Oh, and what about the openness of the SWF format ? Sure : it's still open, you can build your own SWF without Adobe tools. But if you use X and Y feature, then you'll have to pay Adobe for it. Not a fixed amount of money, but a 9% tax on your revenues to get your content to run at a decent speed !

Honestly, Adobe just killed the idea of making 3D flash games, especially for independent game developers that don't make that much money that they can afford paying Adobe taxes.

The only "good news" I see is that the Haxe compiler itself is not relying on Alchemy opcodes (unless you use flash.Memory) and that it easily allows me to target other 3D technologies such as WebGL, which I will definitely consider seriously for the next 3D games, instead of Flash.

79 comments
  • Mar 28, 2012 at 16:34

    Just out of curiosity: Why didn't you build Galaxy55 in HTML5?

  • Corey
    Mar 28, 2012 at 16:41

    Just out of curiosity: Do you envision making more than 50K off of Galaxy 55 and if so in what marketplace?

  • Phil Vessey
    Mar 28, 2012 at 16:54

    Honestly, Adobe just killed the idea of making 3D flash games, especially for independent game developers that don't make that much money that they can afford paying Adobe taxes.

    You dont mention anywhere in the articale that this only applies to net income above $50,000 for any one game. I cant see this touching many indie devs at all. This is designed to make money off the major studios who might want to make a 3d console quality game in flash or unity.

  • Corey
    Mar 28, 2012 at 17:05

    Or for studios with high dollar budgets that make hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions with high gloss Flash games on sites like Facebook. ;)

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 17:09

    This does really suck for people using alchemy + stage3d. Although I did find comfort that it only applies if you are using both API's. Which still helps in my case where I need to perform a lot of computations but am not using any stage3d.

  • zwetan
    Mar 28, 2012 at 17:11

    a bunch of developers accept a 30% tax on the Apple app store
    from the first $1 of revenues

    so here the Flash player plugin on the browser tax 9% if you use 2 features at the same time and if you earn more than $50K, not a big deal really

    if you publish the same game using those 2 same features with AIR, on the desktop or iOS or Android, no tax

    Now what do you prefer ?

    a) develop a game without any tax but no guarantee that Adobe will fix problems

    b) develop a game with tax but then have the guarantee that Adobe will support the platform for a long time and fix problems

    => b) is less risk for everyone

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 17:16

    This entire article is bullshit.

    1. This only applies to in-browser monetization. AIR for Desktop and Mobile is completely free.
    2. Adobe _is_ planning on introducing FastMem into the core AS3 API's. Thibault has confirmed it.

    So this conspiracy theory "here is no hope that they will improve the slowness of the Flash Player memory", is just plain wrong.

    Stop with the FUD. If you're gonna post something to the public, do your research first.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 17:30

    @Martin : that's something we might consider

    @Phil : as soon as you have a small team and spend a few months on a game, you'll reach $50-100K spendings quite soon, and will need to make it back

    @zwetan : we're not talking about a locked'in mobile market here, we are on the Internet, a place of openness were you're not supposed to pay a tax to make content for it !

    @Shawn : I perfectly know what I write, try to read again and you'll see there are just plain facts here. And, of course Adobe will add FastMem to AS3, since you're now paying for it.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 17:51

    "as soon as you have a small team and spend a few months on a game, you'll reach $50-100K spendings quite soon, and will need to make it back"

    How much you spend to develop the game isn't relevant. It's how much the game earns itself.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 17:53

    Personally I use Alchemy, but not 3D rendering, so for me this might actually be a boon (since they only charge if you use both at the same time). More money to Adobe means they might actually improve the Alchemy toolchain now, which afaik hasn't had a single update since the original release, which was hacked together and full of bugs.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 17:53

    @Raymond : indeed, but unless you don't want to eat, you're supposed to earn at least as much as you spent, right ?

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 17:57

    Certainly. I'd argue someone making that much is probably _not_ your typical indie developer though.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 17:58

    @Raymond : if you're a team of 2-3, things scale up quickly. And it's not $50K per month or per year, it's for the whole product life !

  • RobDangerous
    Mar 28, 2012 at 18:35

    And it's important to understand: It's revenue, not profit. And the really strange part: Adobe does not control the revenue channels themselves like Apple does - that means they will require your accounting, even if you do not have big revenues cause they can not know that unless they checked your accounting. That alone won't be acceptable for many people (for example if your small and don't even do proper accounting).

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 18:44

    I wonder if it is cumulated revenue for all the released products/games or per product/game?

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 18:48

    People who think they are "not affected" are completely missing the point. The 50k$ limit is not important here.

    What's important is that you now have the choice between:
    - making/using a free/open source app
    - making/using a fast app

    Le licensing of Flash affect directly every actor of the ecosystem: you want to use Box2D? You can't: you have to pay. So what will the Box2D team do? Provide a slow engine or a paid one?

    That's ridiculous.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 19:01

    There is a bigger picture your not seeing...

    This is only the start, some of you are affected some not, but as new features in the roadmap or in the future are added they may be classed as "premium features" aslo as a developer you might not pay the tax but someone going to pay it! If it not you then it might be the customer your building it for.. All alchemy feature WILL and I be hugely suprised if there not.. classed as "Premium features" So it will eventually effect you one way or another.. in loss of customer wanting Flash content, etc... How are adobe also going to enforce it?
    Are they going to spy on your app?

  • Chris Whitman
    Mar 28, 2012 at 19:03

    Uh, this definitely affects people I know in the indie scene. It won't affect hobbyists, obviously, but pretty much any small business that makes its living from Flash games and wants to write performant 3D applications is going to fall under the new Adobe tax.

    Obviously that still exempts lots of people working in Flash, but I've already talked to people this morning who are not thrilled to have paid Adobe for tools only to now have to pay more for licensing.

  • Nick Jurista
    Mar 28, 2012 at 19:10

    How troubling. The $50k limit seems very arbitrary, and to reiterate what was said, the only people this doesn't directly affect (yet) are the hobbyists. $50k is not such an extreme revenue goal as some of you seem to think, even for indie shops.

  • Mike
    Mar 28, 2012 at 19:17

    Good luck enforcing this. As soon I come around 40k I will just make push an update making it a different game, or a sequel to the last game.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 19:18

    A few things I would like to comment on :

    1. We actually announced other premium features coming, local caching and app shortcut install. Check the FAQ.

    2. This only applies to projects generating more than 50k revenue. If you make enough money for a game, money out of tools like Flash Pro or Builder does not scale. We give you a platform, it is fair for Adobe to change its monetization strategy which was originally designed 15 years ago.

    3. Yes, at some point domainMemory will become irrelevant cause we are going to improve Flash performance. The reason why domainMemory is part of the premium features is because it enables cross-compilation (where we have an opportunity today) Do you imagine our core VM engineers willing to maintain Flash's performance slow, so that we can monetize something else? No, Flash VM performance will increase and in that time, we will have other premium features you may want to leverage. Now, it is our job to make them truly valuable to your business.

    Thibault

  • skeddio
    Mar 28, 2012 at 19:51

    @Thibault:
    Will there be any other existing features that will be under premium licensing in the future?

    No, other than the domain memory APIs used in combination with hardware accelerated Stage3D APIs, existing Flash Player capabilities are not impacted by the new terms and we have no intent to change that in the future. As they are introduced to Flash Player, we plan to designate new features as premium or part of the standard set of capabilities prior to the final release of the capability, and may pre-announce through the roadmap, or during pre-release periods.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 19:56

    @skeddio:
    Yes, no other existing feature will be turned premium.

    Are there plans for additional features in the premium tier of capabilities?

    Yes, Adobe plans to develop new premium capabilities, as well as the core platform features, to provide a foundation that allows any game developer to deliver rich games and experiences more easily to more people than any other platform. In order to continuously innovate and support gaming as the market evolves, Flash Player will provide key premium capabilities that will be delivered incrementally with each release. However, not all developers are expected to need premium capabilities to deliver great games and experiences on the web.

    We are already planning premium features that enable "instant play" gaming experiences for content that relies on large assets which will be able to cache data using a local storage API. For content publishers looking for better branding and user acquisition, another planned new feature would allow apps to request if the user would like to create a shortcut on the desktop, task bar or start menu pointing to the application.

    Adobe, from time to time, publishes a high level roadmap to provide guidance as well as insight into Adobe's current thinking and plans around core functionality contained within Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR. Features will be designated as premium or part of the standard set of capabilities prior to the final release of the capability, and may be pre-announced through the roadmap, or during pre-release periods.

    Thibault

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 21:42

    @zwetan, it also applies to individual devs. If you use both "premium" APIs, you will have to get a licence from Adobe, likely from a paid developer program (see their FAQ for further details - pricing is TBA).

    If you don't have that licence, your browser game will only use the software 3D renderer, which is orders of magnitude slower than the hardware renderer.

    The comparison to the App Store or Android Marketplace is a bit flawed. Both Apple and Google provide a considerable amount of services for the developer fee + 30% cut, such as hosting, automatic updates, sales analysis, version tracking, app discoverability and so forth. Adobe offer none of that

    @shawn, the fastmem stuff is based on domain memory, which means to use it with 3D, you need too both buy a licence and pay royalties above 50k.

    One of the most worrying things about this is that Adobe have slapped a tax/charge on existing technology - technology where such a charge was not hinted at before.

    This is a betrayal of trust. It would have been far better to apply any levies to new innovations they produced.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 21:53

    @Thibault : I know well (and I think you know as well) how some decisions can be political for Adobe.

    I'll not trust anything such as getting decent performances for ByteArrays until I see it.

    a) because it's been many years already and we haven't seen any improvement on AVM2 yet (apart from Vector)

    b) because now with the new "premium feature" speed tax, Adobe will have even less interest in doing it.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 22:43

    I encourage the community to read this news *in* context and not overreact.

    SEE FANTASTIC IMAGE!
    http://www.rivellomultimediaconsulting.com/adobe-premium/

  • Rezmason
    Mar 28, 2012 at 23:02

    I'd sure like to know how Adobe is going to enforce their policy if Haxe programmers are able to write SWF files without using any Adobe-provided tools.

    It seems as though they would either have to check the SWF in question for licensing metadata, or they'd have to impose a content takedown system similar to the YouTube's.

  • Mar 28, 2012 at 23:44

    What would the reaction be if a C compiler vendor forced you to license their C runtime library under similar restrictions? Distribution of the runtime would still be free but you'd have to pay for the compiler to target that runtime AND to build EXEs with it, in the form of a royalty in perpetuity.

    It's a stupid model just for the reporting burden it creates.

    Sure Adobe has the right to change their monetization scam, I mean scheme, but we (your formerly loyal user base) have the right to tell you that we think it's stupid, unfair and that we're going to avoid it like the plague.

    Adobe, please don't act surprised if this things backfires spectacularly in your greedy little faces.

  • ralf
    Mar 29, 2012 at 00:09

    very very bad … and now i switch to html5. construct 2!
    i will never use an adobe product!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    bye bye

    (and i will delete the flash player and adobe air)

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 00:09

    @Nicolas: I know that there is a trust issue. That is fair. As Joa mentioned, how come we have not implemented trivial things for years. Cause we have been distracted trying to do everything with Flash, but now we can focus.

    We need to deliver now, period. That's what we are doing with the releases this year, from foundation like Stage3D on mobile with AIR, the little improvements like mouse lock, etc, fullscreen text input, all the JDIs (just do it) features we have been shipping since Flash Player 11, then workers soon and those are incremental things we will be doing for each release, from 11 to 11.4. I believe developer appreciate that we are back on track, focusing on one thing and executing.

    Yes, we are charging now for the "premium stuff', cause we bring value, we can help companies providing key features for their business and the games they produce. Keep in mind we also had customers asking us, is there any way you guys can add this feature to enable this for us? Why shouldn't we also seize that opportunity?

    Domain memory will be at some point irrelevant in terms of speed benefits and we are fine with this, the idea that for money, we will make and try our best to maintain the Flash VM slow would be just crazy and a path to death.

    For the VM performance, I could comment and tell you our plans, talk about AS3 Prime and other major VM/GC work we are gonna be doing, but this will not change anything. We need to deliver and prove you that we are committed to Flash and its innovation, not a short term monetization opportunity.

    Thibault

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 00:51

    Thibault, since you're here reading this and replying now, can you give any insight on why StageVideo isn't supported on AIR for the desktop? In my mind and many other developers minds, ideally Adobe spends it's resources on correcting this kind of performance bottleneck we don't see with competing technologies (like UDK, Unity, Appcelerator, HTML5) and then finds ways to monetize on things that can't be applied to the browser plugin, like cloud storage services and app marketplaces. These seem like much better ways to attain profit without angering the already very unnerved and increasingly malcontent developer audience, am I right? Developers don't seem to have a problem with paying extra for features (charting components in Flex Builder Pro for instance), but taxing something which should be universally available due to the free market economics and marketplace competition seems insulting to most I'd find.

    Sorry if that got onto a tangent. I think we're all a bit shocked by this news.

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 00:54

    @Thibault : I told you already that what you're doing here is :

    a) too early : it will kill the Flash3D gaming market, maybe not for AAA games, but for a lot of small-to-medium-sized studios that were about to get started with it

    b) unfair : instead of promising things for the future and charging money now, what about doing the other way for a change ? That's what people with a business plan usually do to get developers respect and trust.

  • Adnan Doric
    Mar 29, 2012 at 01:03

    @Thibault "We need to deliver and prove you that we are committed to Flash and its innovation, not a short term monetization opportunity."

    Are you going to "prove" it soon, like next week, next month or more like next year? And why didn't you prove it prior to monetizing, its kind a contradictory.

    You have a great runtime, it is normal to make money, I just think that you should make money from tools. Better runtime = more people buying tools = more profit for Adobe, right?

    If you don't change direction soon, you'll end up where you're going, and maybe lose money because of trust issues.

    Peace :)
    Adnan

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 01:45

    @Adnan:

    You have a great runtime, it is normal to make money, I just think that you should make money from tools. Better runtime = more people buying tools = more profit for Adobe, right?

    Yes, that is a model that works, but at some point you are capped. Ask any tooling company today, hence why you see companies going to consumers, services, because games could generate millions of revenue with maybe 200 copies of Flash Builder and Flash Pro sold. Is it a good business? Not really.

    Are you going to "prove" it soon, like next week, next month or more like next year? And why didn't you prove it prior to monetizing, its kind a contradictory.

    This month, 11.2 just shipped with AIR 3.2 with Stage3D on AIR mobile, in a few months 11.3 is shipping with for gaming oriented features and same for 11.4, so yes in the next months. Some other major work will happen next year, but I think an incremental plan is the way to go rather than going silent for 2 years and come back.

    Thibault

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 01:58

    I think Adobe's proposal is justified:

    Under 50,000 and 9% after. Especially since Air, Mobile will always remain free! Woo Hoo!

    However, like any good licensing deal, there should be a buyout option after a certain limit. eg. pay a flat rate.

    Adobe needs to make some money off the player regardless, and I don't agree with Nicholas's comment about the web being free and open with regards to flash player content because flash player content is not the free and open web standards, it is Adobe's labour of love at this point and they need to be able to capitalize on this amazing tool.

    When it comes to Adobe innovating the player though, damn you guys are slow!!!

    Where are my threads?

    I agree with Nicholas AS3 datatypes should be using as much domain memory optimization as they can by default.

    And when it comes to AIR, there are many loose ends that need fixing!

    Will be interesting to see what makes the cut from 11.2 - 11.4.

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 03:32

    Thibault and Adobe,

    Thibault, I know your on the front trench's , like the rest of us, but still :(

    I am actually very sadden by this all, I had a long conversion with project managers at adobe about trying to convince them they need to passionately involved with the community and talking to us and getting our feedback. I thought I might be getting somewhere, but alas not. we are you customers and also your biggest sales force.. Today you are only really heard from the passionate hardcore/experimental end of the flash platform community the ones brave enough to speak out. I feel this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Adobe are doing this for two reasons, one they have no tooling to compete with Unity3D or Unreal UDK, If i am creating games why would I need a buy a copy of Flash Builder or Professional? Firstly why has adobe not invested in a 3D tooling for there own runtime? Adobe has always been a tooling company. Secondly the likes of Zynga making 100's of Millions or maybe even billions now off the Flash Player and adobe simply want 9% net of there profits which I can understand, why 50k, why not 100k or 500k entry barrier and why not per year? why over the lifetime?.. This is because then only the AAA companies would end up paying and who actually can easily afford it and are the ones truly benefiting and without giving really anything back to the flash community.

    I personally wish Macromedia had never sold to Adobe, and we had the original amazing macromedia team and company outlook towards it customers. When macromedia was solely in charge of Flash Player, we saw lots of constant new improvements and innovations . ActionScript 3 was as far as I could recall heavily underway and near completion when Adobe brought out Macromedia and Flash CS3 was launch relatively quickly afterwards. Most of us, myself been using flash since version 3 or maybe even earlier. In the last 7 years call's for bugs to be fixed have gone unheard. Like sound bugs, etc.. So why will anything actually change? Why in 7 years or so we not on ActionScript 4 or even ActionScript 5? Why has JavaScript overtaken Flash Player for performance or dam close?

    I would happy pay 30% to Adobe, if they build a marketplace, cover bandwidth cost, promoting, review and QA apps submitted, hosting, multiplayer gaming features (Like Game Center on IOS), Payement Processing and Fraudent Transactions, Yearly announce massive improvements in the underlying runtime, Siri this year for example with apple. Just like iOS App Store but for the Web. But no they give us promises of delivering stuff in the future, the saying "Actions speak loader than words" come to mind..

    So my question to you is? Few of us would be complaining if when you launch Stage3D and Alchemy this also announced right at the start then this would have been fair and transparent, Also why not at announce it at Adobe Max by the CEO or CTO? and why a random day in March? This must have been in the internal company pipeline for years or at leasts months.

    We are the guys who actually sell the flash platform for you, there the ones who convince our clients to use for there projects, so if we are not convinced or trust adobe now, then regardless of amazing it is. If customers don't want to have to pay adobe for use of the flash platform they ask for there projects to be built in other technologies like unity web player.

    I really think you kidding yourselves (All flash developers) if you don't think this will eventually affect you. I saw this coming a while ago and switch to HTML5 and other technologies. Adobe Air is free for NOW!. There is nothing stopping Adobe changing there minds and charging you for it, it because it a profitable option. Did anyone think that Adobe would ever charge us for premium features without firstly announcing at there own conference Adobe MAX!, If you where open, transparent and explain where the revenue is going then you might help the impact on the community, but this 9% revenue stream has never been indicated to part fund the development of the flash player, fix the outstanding issues, speed up the VM, progress of new features...

    Finally and my most important question is the HaXe compiler, written by one man (Nicolas, ok..) but stil better than any Adobe compiler? If you build the same content in both ActionScript 3 and HaXe and target the flash player, why is it that a open source project actually run's noticeable faster than if it was build using the official flash complier?

    These ar my thoughts and questions, I really wish I was not even written this response.. A very sad day for the community..

  • Lee Sylvester
    Mar 29, 2012 at 04:00

    I think the biggest problem, here and now, is the community trust level in Adobe. Very little seems to have been provided to the developer community of late from Adobe, while other companies in the same field have produced much. Add to the the poor handling of information leaked to the community (or at least how it was worded), and it really seems as though Adobe has dropped the ball. Do you really expect us to trust a company that builds a developer following then drops them completely after they have invested lots of money and time (LiveCycle)? Do you really expect us to follow the same said company after they dis their own products (Flex no good for the enterprise)?

    I think, what Adobe needs to realise, is that there's no reason for us to stick around. Adobe aren't the only guys in the running with the tools for the job. Yes, Flash used to be the only way to get what we wanted, but with the obvious future of HTML5 / CSS3 and tools like Unity3D or Torque (for web), we now have options.

    A funny thing happens when corporate competition is thrown into the arena. I think Adobe will slowly see this pan out; only not in their favour.

  • lee
    Mar 29, 2012 at 04:44

    may be it's a good news to haxe and nme in mobile platform

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 05:34

    @Thibault I think the value/effort balance is not quite met. All developers (indies too) that want to use both have to register and proof that the did/didn't make 50k with this particular game. The administrative effort is really horrible. And as nicolas said: The framework developers now better start to make premium/non-premium versions as Also the features are rather "slim". If adobe would say "full air capabilities" for such apps it might be a different thing. And also: Removing features that have already existed and were used?! (there are apps using both Haxe fast memory and stage3D. Couldn't you have focused on new features that haven't already been used, like int64, air like database/file access etc?!

    @Rezmason Signed .swfs - but as FP will either have to compare it to an internal key or a url there will be ways around that....
    https://freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/felten/researchers-show-how-forge-site-certificates

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 05:45

    @Martin

    --
    there are apps using both Haxe fast memory and stage3D
    --

    Yes, and those apps are being grandfathered in and not subject to revenue sharing.

    from:

    http://www.adobe.com/go/fpl

    --
    Until August 1, 2012, developers can use the premium features without applying authorization to their content. Adobe will provide royalty-free licenses for ongoing use of the premium features for any content publicly released prior to August 1, 2012.
    --

    mike chambers

    mesh@adobe.com

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 05:59

    I keep seeing references to Adobe removing existing APIs. These apis (domainMemory) were experimental APIs that developers were told not to use for production content.

    When we announced they were being removed, the community gave us feedback that this would break existing content. Based on that feedback we changed our plans to:

    1. Only restrict the use of domainMemory when used with Stage3D.
    2. Grandfather in all existing content to the new model.

    So, Adobe actually did listen to you, and made, what I feel is a fair compromise. Now, you may not like the idea of premium features in general, and I get that, but don't keep repeating stuff that is factually incorrect.

    The model where Adobe invests all of the resources in developing the Flash Player, and then projects such as Haxe and Unity pull developers away from Adobe tooling is one that was not sustainable under the old model. Under the new model, it doesnt matter which tools and technologies you are using to develop Flash content, since revenue is generated based on the runtime and not tooling.

    And yes, Adobe could have made a 3D authoring tool, or something like Haxe, but perhaps we decided that making 50 million tools for the Flash platform is not a business we want to be in. Why make a 3D authoring tool when Unity already has a kick ass one? Why not structure the revenue model so you can use the best tools regardless of who makes them, and everyone benefits?

    mike chambers

    mesh@adobe.com

  • Alex
    Mar 29, 2012 at 06:20

    I've thought for a while now that tooling alone can't sustain Flash for Adobe, especially now that Flash is being targeted at fewer use cases.

    It's a good sign that Adobe is investigating ways of making the Flash platform compelling enough for bigger companies to be willing to spend money on it. They only way they'll do that is by giving it functionality that is valuable and can't be found anywhere else.

    I don't believe for a second that the Flash team is going to stop trying to make the core functionality better and faster. But even these so called premium features can help the average developer if it means that Flash becomes more interesting to job providers, due to the unique functionality it provides. I can't help but feel a little relieved that Adobe is hunting for new ways to make Flash viable in the future. We NEED that.

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 09:24

    @Jeffrey: No, no plans having StageVideo on AIR desktop as premium! We need to add it btw, today it is inconsistent.

    Thibault

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 11:25

    @MikeChambers If I am not mistaken applications and games occasionally receive a version 2 (specially social games) and then their new content is published after august ... (never touch a published system?!). And aside that: I am also talking about libraries, frameworks that are strongly built around that like Haxe - those will be published often.

    Adobe/Macromedia already made experiences trying to remove "experimental apis". Fact is that you just marked it as experimental. It works very well, has been included in release players and is used by the public... a lot. For all purposes: it is not experimental.

    Saying "I told you not to eat the fresh backed cookies - even if you are starving" is really strange and afterwards saying "I told you so" is uhm. mean.

  • Dan Carter
    Mar 29, 2012 at 11:25

    I've spent some time analysing this announcement and have come to the following conclusion:

    F*ck you Adobe. F*ck you.

  • teo
    Mar 29, 2012 at 11:39

    I think this is one of adobe biggest mistake, unless they really want to kill the flash player, the flash player had the advantage that is easy cheap to implement an interactive ideea, i would pay for a license but what do i get is the flash player performance better? why would i develop for flash and not for other tech? i think adobe should regain that flash awesomeness and after that try to charge for their services. i'm really looking forward for 11.4 see if it deserve that payed license.

  • whitetigle
    Mar 29, 2012 at 12:14

    Now, the trend is to charge % on what the developer is doing.

    9% can seem fair if you compare this to apple or android.
    However, 9% is still 9% off for the developer and charging on revenues is clearly a good move for adobe.

    They get their share and then you calculate yours and you remove taxes and then it's no more 91% for you :)

    It's always the same facked system. So it's never 9% or 30% it's always more.

    So it's just another company going to suck money from succesful projects. And in a little while we will have cross % from the platform where we will publish and from the library owner and one day we'll all work for free since all the money will get to these intermediates.

    But I can't blame adobe, they just follow the trend.
    Bye bye fixed prices !

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 12:19

    @mike chambers, Adobe and yourself are playing word games here.

    Adobe explicitly encouraged developers to use Alchemy features in order to gauge it's viability, and to spread the use of those features. From the Alchemy page:

    "Adobe is providing some example libraries, and developers are encouraged to share their ported libraries." -- http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/alchemy/

    It would have been a simple matter to remove access to those APIs for the production player and allow only debug player use, however Adobe chose not to for the past 4 years.

    Adobe recently enjoyed pitching Flash as a defacto standard - can you at least sympathise with developers who have used a public and production available API for 4 years who assumed that it was a defacto standard for Flash content?

    Incorrect facts are not being repeated - there are different interpretations. To go all RFC (http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2119.txt), Adobe have never, to my knowledge, specified these APIs as a "MUST NOT", only as "NOT RECOMMENDED/SHOULD NOT".

    There is a world of difference.

  • Arnoud
    Mar 29, 2012 at 14:59

    I don't see anything wrong with making money from the flash player as long if its reasonable. The business model seems really strange though.

    Why not charge a few bucks for a licence key for the extra features? Instead of making money with IDE's they could simply sell licences. Could be done per domain or per deployment, or per year, etc... many models possible. That's much cleaner, no need for insight in peoples administration etc.

    I'm really curious how Adobe will deal with this administration issue. How are they going to measure indirect profits etc.
    if they want complete insight in my administration well, i'm not sure i can accept that... But they must have a different way.
    Maybe some omniture magic?

    Thibault / Mike,
    could you please elaborate on this? We're a bit in the dark here...

    thnx

  • Bart
    Mar 29, 2012 at 15:53

    Beside technical and political issues the administrative side haunts me: I'm not going to try and understand 5 screens of legal gibberish (no chance), then sign away full control over my creations and then agree to open my books to an American company so they can check if i'd made >$50K.

    This can get ugly very fast, considering the track record of the American corporate right system, beancounters and lawyers in general. What if they say I'm on the hook for $1000, I disagree and then get bogged down into a $200/hour legal hell. Fine for Epic and big shops with fulltime legal staff, but I don't like it at all.

  • Mar 29, 2012 at 17:28

    @Thibault Imbert

    "Yes, that is a model that works, but at some point you are capped. Ask any tooling company today, hence why you see companies going to consumers, services, because games could generate millions of revenue with maybe 200 copies of Flash Builder and Flash Pro sold. Is it a good business? Not really."

    Your going to start charging publishing companies a percentage of their magazine sales as they make millions in revenue with maybe 200 copies of PhotoShop and InDesign?

  • Evan
    Mar 29, 2012 at 18:32

    Adobe,
    Thanks for killing flash! I have never liked it much anyways.

  • Phil
    Mar 29, 2012 at 19:55

    Tinki your analogy is not relevant. inDesign and PhotoShop are tools that produce content, magazine publishers can use different tools to produce the same format. Now if they were printing their product on a paper format that was owned by Adobe, then adobe certainly could request a license fee. The publisher can then choose to either pay the fee or find another format and deal with all of its advantages/disadvantages. I'm not saying what Adobe is doing is correct or not, I'm just saying your argument is invalid.

  • netpsing
    Mar 29, 2012 at 21:50

    Hey Adobe, what if Microsoft were to ask 9% of your incomes ? You're targetting their platform, why souldn't them profit of your success ?

    If you don't agree with this, you have to agree that your new licensing scheme is just plain bullshit.

  • Robin
    Mar 29, 2012 at 23:28

    @netpsing
    They will do... Or do you think Microsoft introduce their App Store in Windows 8 for just delivering free software?

  • Robin
    Mar 29, 2012 at 23:38

    The more I think about it, the more sense it makes. It's easy to rant from a developers view but we need to look at it from the perspective of Adobe. Just selling dev/creative tools seems not worthwhile today. Apple, Google, Microsoft (XBox/Live), Sony (PS3/PSN), Nintendo, etc. earn a big amount of money by cross financing (selling software from others or by advertising). They all get some % commission when others make money and that's the financial model of the future.
    Apple doesn't need to sell their dev tools, they even could offer their phones for half price because their successful app store could make ends meet.

    So how can Adobe make money beside selling their tools? Creating a Flash App Store for desktop browsers? Well, this is not the way how Flash games make money, the web is different! Just have a look at e.g. Zynga Games. How can Adobe get some % from their millions of $$$?

    Currently I only see those 3 alternatives to the revenue model:

    a)
    They could establish a Flash gaming platform (site) having their own advertising ecosystem including a custom in-app payment system (like Facebook).
    There - and only there - you can play premium games for free. But this hosting restriction is the opposite of an open web.

    b)
    The Flash player gets an advertising system built in. So if developers use premium technologies then they need to make room for those ads or some overlays pop up.

    c)
    Adobe releases the whole Flash platform as an open web standard. Any company or community can provide their knowledge to make it the best platform. And maybe no one is talking about HTML5 as a replacement anymore.

    I think c) could happen if the revenue model is not going to work for Adobe. So before they ruin it completely this could be the liberation.
    But who from the big players wants an open web technology where you can run native like browser apps and games on any platform while passing app store monetisation? That's why deeply believing in a prosporing "all can do HTML5 future" is pretty naive.

    Robin

  • IndesignUser
    Mar 30, 2012 at 03:11

    Tinki

    You ignore completely the incredible business model to produce magazines for iPad : you have to pay InDesign AND subscribe to a special program (Adobe Digital Publishing Suite) for more than 400 dollars EACH MONTH!!!

    And it's not all... You have to pay a downloads package... up to 0.30$ by magazine downloaded!

    So, Flash is in fact the second to have this type of business model...

  • Daniel
    Mar 30, 2012 at 06:56

    I think this is post and a lot of these comments are going a little far and helping fan misinformation and hysteria.

    While I would dread the prospect of paying out 9% of my hard earned revenue, I sympathise with adobe.

    Adobe does two things when it comes to flash, create IDEs and tools (Flash, FlashBuilder, PixelBender) and the runtime/platform (flashplayer.exe, plugin, AIR?) While they monetize on the tools, the maintenance and evolution of the platform does not generate any revenue (until now). So while there are many free or paid tools for generating flash content, only adobe is required to maintain it.

    I imagine that there is a lot of work in maintenance of an increasing amount of hardware that flash needs to support with the ability to use the GPU. My impression is that they are adding older hardware, not just new. I'd say it's a little unfair that only adobe carries that burden, while flashbuilder, unity and other toolsets can and probably does take from adobe's profits, without contributing to the maintenance. I know, it's not a fair world, but a sacrifice had to be made somewhere, and the option is there to just not use both features. If you are using those two features, chances are that you're using the two features that are costing adobe most to maintain.

    There are other alternatives to flash, and no-one (other than your clients likely) is forcing you to use flash, or use flash with stage3d and alchemy, but I'm sure there are reasons why a lot of the alternatives haven't caught on. While HTML5 is there to fill the void, you often end up having to support nuances of various browsers yourself.

    anyway, while I do sympathize, I'm weary of the mess that all this licensing would create. As far as I'm concerned I'll likely never use these features, unless unity or unreal force you to.

    And how does adobe expect people to prove how much they are or are not making off the game? What if the game is free? What if the game is free and the ad next to it gives me money? would that count as revenue from the Flash game? What if I have two games on the same page one a premium and one not and I get advertisement, how do you prove which one is generating the advertising revenue. Is this going to be an honour system, or is the IRA/CRA going to include that in their tax forms? I can't wait for the reaction of the community once these details start trickling in.

  • Lee Sylvester
    Mar 30, 2012 at 06:57

    Open Source FTW! ;-)

  • krackl
    Mar 30, 2012 at 08:59

    More reason that my trust is rapidly fleeting from Adobe, How can I make amazing things if Adobe can't even provide a clear roadmap for what they are doing. Yesterday I read about how Cocomo is dead and today the the new premium features on aspects that are CRITICAL for our success as developers. I'm all for "Premium" but seriously... make it true value added not on core functionality.

    Though I understand the importance of creating new revue streams for the Flash Platform, I am concerned at the approach Adobe has taken for the following reasons:

    0) The first "premium" features are fundamental performance gains that are standard in other platforms. Already imposing restrictions before the platform is even up to par.

    1) These changes will certainly fragment any open source/community driven developments. Frameworks will have to be split or target subsets... only limiting possibilities for passionate developers which is counter productive.

    2) It seems unfair that Adobe would showcase features and encourage developments only to later announce such a monetization strategy. Especially with no foresight given to developers, a group that Adobe has forgotten even tho they are sole reason Flash exists. Transparency is crucial which other companies don't seem to have such issues.

    3) Most importantly, I think the biggest fallback to the current strategy is it attempts to put a "license" on user generated content. NO COMPANY, Adobe or otherwise should claim a % of ownership in things I CREATED. The reason Apple, Google and others can charge a % is because of the services (hosting, processing, etc) they offer, not the applications themselves.

    Flash has its roots in attracting great designers and developers and innovating what is possible on the web. However putting such limits and licensing red tape is only going to continue to fracture an already weakened community. Ultimately this will give us no other choice but to find alternative, TRANSPARENT solutions.

    I think Adobe underestimates just how damaging adding a simple "You have to do this..." into creative workflow is. This will have a much larger impact when planning for projects on the Flash Platform. And I am quite honestly sick of Adobe telling me what Flash is for... (Gaming gaming games)... it is WE the community that dictates such terms. IF Adobe wants to play it's part then create an amazing marketplace and deployment processes for creators and consumers.

    And for the love of god can we please hire a new PR firm for Adobe's Flash Related matters? Whoever is coming up with your communication strategy should be tossed out ASAP. Where the F*#K is Kevin Lynch? he should be CEO of Adobe already.

    Sinc,
    Another Concerned Customer who as followed the dream of Macromedia since Flex Beta.

  • Dan Carter
    Mar 30, 2012 at 12:47

    krackl, you hit the nail on the head right there.

  • Robin
    Mar 30, 2012 at 13:32

    krackl: "The reason Apple, Google and others can charge a % is because of the services (hosting, processing, etc) they offer, not the applications themselves."

    That's nonsense. They don't spend your money entirely on their services. Believe it or not: They primarily make profit of your content! Hosting, payment processing, etc. is worthless without content people are willing to spend money for!

    Adobe doesn't offer those services (yet) so they take only 9 % from you rather then 30 %. That's fair.

  • Mar 30, 2012 at 13:38

    @IndesignUser - Your right, I'm ignoring that, I'm talking about the web.

    @Phil - You say its not relevant I believe it is. When you compare 2 things they are never the same, so no it's not exactly the same, the point is that one of Thibault reasons for this speed tax is that they don't make enough money from their tools, and that people buy their tools and god forbid, use them more than once and make money of what they make. Making money off the tools they make is no longer good business sense, they now want to make money off what people make with their tools as well. Peoples creativity, ideas, development skills etc.

    @Robin - App stores, host, sell, advertise etc. thats why they get a cut. What if MS were to charge Adobe a percentage of revenue for the tools they make that run on Windows?

  • Robin
    Mar 30, 2012 at 14:08

    @Tink
    No one openes an App store without thinking about profit. Apple earned nearly $300 Mio profit (not revenue) since they start their App store according to analysts. Official numbers are rare, guess why?

    Don't argue with Microsoft could also chage a percentage of revenue for their tools on Windows. They just don't do it YET. Software sells systems, that's at least how it works up till now.
    Well, we will see what the future brings...

  • Phil
    Mar 30, 2012 at 16:23

    Think, the difference is in the publishing business you use the tools, publish the product and you are no longer using anything created by the toolmaker.

    In this case, you use the tools (don't need to actually since there are competitor products) but you are using their product to distribute your application.

    It's a fundamental difference.

    If everyone in graphic design started using GIMP Adobe would be out of luck. But if they were using Gimp to publish to some platform that Adobe built of course they would charge to use that platform.

    Again I am not advocating their "speed tax" I am just saying I don't think the comparisons are valid.

  • whitetigle
    Mar 30, 2012 at 18:09

    Just a note to continue my point on how much it really does cost : http://blog.ootii.com/ has published an interesting view on the % story. (link found on the flash flamebate on gamasutra ).

  • julien
    Mar 31, 2012 at 15:50

    I just think it's strange that to have access to a "premium" feature you will have to pay, while Adobe has tried to push the Flash Platform to the open source world the last few years.

  • HTML5
    Mar 31, 2012 at 19:46

    HTML5 FTW. Works on any browser, any platform and no Adobe tax for "premium" features which everyone knows is just bullshit.

  • Arby
    Mar 31, 2012 at 23:47

    Ummm.... It was two years ago Steve Jobs and Adobe had a very public tussle about the lack of Flash on Apple portable devices, and one main argument from Jobs was that Flash was a closed system controlled by one company (Adobe).

    Adobe, with this move you have just proven his argument right.

  • Ted
    Apr 01, 2012 at 13:27

    How long until more Flash features are taxable.
    Thin end of the wedge.

  • Chris
    Apr 01, 2012 at 14:52

    Speed tax indeed, the last bit of news developers need. It shows a desperate move from a business to hopefully get a cut of the millions being made on facebook games and the such.

    Adobe purchased this technology and destroyed it's public trust and let its rival technology steal this trust. I don't believe things are over for flash however I think Adobe has a lot to prove over the next few years that they flash is still a target worthy of its beginnings.

    Anyways wtf why announce this now without any amazing feature to cover the madness it generates. Seriously flash player needs a fresh marketing team for these desparate times.

  • jkuro
    Apr 02, 2012 at 09:28

    Comparing this to what other companies charge for their stores is nonsensical. Apple provide bandwidth, analytics, billing and other things you would otherwise have to pay for. Google do so as well for Android, so do Microsoft and Sony for XBox Live and PSN respectively. What do adobe provide other than their runtime? That's right, NOTHING! - heck the high quality stuff is not even built using their tools!

    I'd think the 9% was more than fair if they came out and said they were going to provide these features (not just "improving the engine" which is crock), but I'm willing to bet they won't (unless it's a last minute decision - I can't believe they would announce this without saying that...unless they are run by a group of monkeys).

    No need to sugar coat this - this is nothing but a money grab. They could have charged a flat rate for the license, or even charged tool builders such as Unity an extra fee for including it, which would be added to the one-time flash license cost (heck, I'm a unity dev, and I'd be fine with it). But instead, they have chosen to cash in on the fact that another company has made their product a decent option for 3D game development, since they themselves cannot be bothered, and would rather just collect residuals.

    To those who say "it won't affect most people", keep in mind 50k is not that high of a hurdle for a number of indie gaming companies, and Adobe knows this. Even those that probably will not make that amount may start off believing they will, hence will not want to use something that will make them pay the minute they do, without providing any of added benefits that other platforms do.

    This is the kind of move that pushes developers away to other alternatives (I can't imagine the "Big Boys" like Zynga and co will be willing to fork over 9% of anything to Adobe), and the minute they do, you can consider flash dead.

  • Chris
    Apr 02, 2012 at 15:36

    It gets worse for people wanting to use the UDK unreal engine with flash, they seem to have a fairly similar revenue tax after $50000 from what I just read its 25% + this speed tax.. *facepalm.

  • Ray Kutro
    Apr 02, 2012 at 20:45

    Here is my take on this Speed Tax issue and Adobe's commitment to Flash community.

    Speed Tax for Speedy death of the Flash Platform

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/106770892113584052587/posts/XLmTYtq6isX

    Please share your thoughts on Google+.

    Thanks

  • Apr 05, 2012 at 02:37

    @Thibault Imbert, @mike chambers,

    Flash player royalties are not equivalent to Apple App Store or Android Market.

    Case in point: I can make a game in the Android Market and make money from ads, and don't have to give any percentage of my money back to the Android Market. Same goes for iOS, right? The reason the App market makers get's a share of revenue is because they're doing the payment processing. A developer does not have to report back to the app market about how much money they made that didn't go through their payment processing, right?

    Now that Unity has announced their pricing for being able to export to Flash player ($500 for basic, $1500 for pro), then add to that the Adobe "tax" on player features, it starts to seem like a rather expensive option for small developers. Why not just export from Unity to the Unity Web Player, which is free, or to Google Chrome (both which are free to the developer)? I think we'll start to see more indie developers going for either of those options, simply to avoid the headache of having to register a license and then report on revenue to Adobe. Even if the developer didn't have to pay anything, the time consuming haste of having to report income can be a big deterrent.

    Unfortunately, Flash developers don't currently have the option to export to a different web player, like Unity developers do.

    In addition, what if an indie developer doesn't make much from a game, lets say $5000 per a year. Then it sounds like they still would have to report to Adobe every year? Then 10 years into the future, they'd start having to pay 9% of the money they're making to Adobe?

    It seems to me that if Unity3D can give away their basic version of their tools for FREE, and give away their web based Unity player for FREE, and not charge any royalties from it... Then why can't Adobe, who doesn't give away ANY of their tools for free (not even a basic version), not charge royalties for their web player features? The answer seems to be because Adobe isn't making good enough tools that match up to their player's abilities.

    I think Adobe's tools are great for what they were built for! But the reason I started to invest in Unity technology (prior to this announcement) over Unreal technology, was entirely based on the licensing structure. I didn't go with Unreal because I don't want them taking a percentage of my income. I want to pay for the tools, and that's it (and this is what my clients want as well). I don't want to pay anyone a percentage of the money I make, and any people that I develop apps for don't want to either. If I'm developing apps for other companies, my technology choice can become a problem for them too, and their budgets.

    While Adobe may have taken into account some user feedback about not removing Alchemy functionality before they went with their current monitization scheme, it doesn't seem that users got any opportunity to give feedback about this new royalties model before Adobe gave it's plans to already implement it.

    Could Adobe make an exception for Flash player "premium" licensing to people who already own a license for Flash Professional or Flash Builder? They could even do royalty exception based on the percentage of employees and number of Creative Suite licenses per employees? If Adobe is already getting paid by a customer who buys their tools, should that customer also have to pay royalties as well?

  • Bart
    Apr 05, 2012 at 14:53

    What I'd like to know: will you (haxe) keep supporting and updating the Flash target? Any thoughts on that? I really dislike these corporate/money politics, but there's still much to love on the platform & runtime themselves.

  • Ken
    Apr 20, 2012 at 18:31

    I've been programming since the 80's as a teen, ( Atari 400 48k (Action Cart). Sold some games, had a good time., Seen Platforms ,Operating Systems and programming languages come and go. Been Using HTML5 (javascript) and/or Java for my programming of late.
    I came to Flash late in the game, because it is fast for games, widely excepted as a Facebook platform and has some cool features. But if this is how Adobe is gonna play the game, (pun intended) then I'm out.
    Java is just as fast or faster, with libraries all over the net for free, just as easy to deal with in the game and animation department. and No tax!.
    If Adobes Idea was to save Flash from the big bad Html 5 monster that is taking over the browser game and app department, then this is the worst move I can possibly think of.
    But You can tax Flash all you want Mudheads, I for one will be going back to HTML5. thanks Adobe for making my mind up for me.

    My next hit game will be tax free. well until the government finds me, jk.

  • Jesse Nicholson
    Apr 24, 2012 at 12:08

    Wow.... so I guess this news means 2 things for me.

    1) My C++ port of the entire flash platform and compiler front end to compile AS3 to C++ to a fully native application is going to be insanely popular.

    2) It's also going to directly compete with Adobe's new model of turning flash into a game engine/platform. Good thing mine won't have any tax on it and won't cost a cent, so I guess I'll either kill flash or Adobe will try and sue me.

    Seriously Adobe, Thimbault & Mike... I know you guys work for them but once upon a time you were just 2 dudes that were part of the flash community. You loved actionscript, you loved the art of it all, the people... so... thinking with THAT mentality and not your Adobe Employee mentality... can you really defend the decisions coming out of Adobe lately? I mean really? If you still can, then I think you've lost touch with your past.

  • Ivan Maran
    Oct 29, 2012 at 11:33

    You guys who complaining... just try to find a little gratefulness within your heart for the Adobe. They have done so much to make our developers' lives amazing through this years. Now they want to make some money in the world full of Unity and HTML5, please support them.
    The feetures like Stage3d and porting to Flash from another platform are really great and take nothing from what you've been done already. This is just a step further.

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