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What Happened to Browser-Based Games?

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New and exciting games are constantly under development. But as the video game market continues to thrive and more and more titles such as Mario RPG or Resident Evil receive remakes, it's easy to wonder how the nostalgia train hasn't stopped at the '90s and early 2000s classics of browser-based gaming.

A game format from a simpler time, browser games can be played via the internet exclusively via web browsers. During their peak, you could access them through the likes of Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Netscape. They mostly surfaced with the introduction of the coding language JavaScript, which allowed for more interactive websites compared to some of the previous languages, such as HTML.

Of course, Adobe Flash Player also played a crucial role in their development, as it was software that allowed for audio and video content to be viewed on websites, allowing for the creation of interactive video games, i.e., Flash games. This article delves into what happened to browser-based gaming and how the genre gave birth to modern games.

Out With the Old and In With the New
Nowadays, browser-based games are less common as video game consoles and modern PC gaming dominate the industry. The rise of modern gaming platforms and an increase in funding for developers meant browser games became almost obsolete. You may even think that they're now limited to the likes of online casinos, and many of the best online gambling games do indeed take the form of browser-based games.

There are thousands of websites hosting a wide range of themed slots, poker games, blackjack tables, or even virtual horse racing, but that doesn't mean that's where Flash games are doomed to reside. While Adobe Flash Player may be long gone, browser and Flash games have evolved, and many of their elements can be found in popular gaming formats today.

The Indie Game Takeover
Beginning in the early 2010s, the number of independent (indie) titles started to rise, and game ideas that had previously only been available as browser games now gained access to the same marketplaces as AAA products.

The video game industry has grown into one of the most well-known and extensive kinds of entertainment, and the short but sweet Flash games had an opportunity to transform and adapt. Now, many concepts that would have once been made for a popular puzzle game or platformer on Flash compete with AAA titles on the indie market.

The Rise of Mobile Gaming
What also contributed to a decrease in browser games was the introduction of smartphones. The quality and genre of games often found in browser and Flash games were easily transferable to smartphones, making them portable and therefore increasing the number of players that the game could reach.

For Adobe Flash Player-supported titles in particular, this was a huge blow, as Apple refused to support Flash in favor of the up-and-coming HTML5. The result was the ultimate fall of Flash Player, with this even being cited as a cause for its closure by Adobe itself back in 2021.

The Modern Browser Game
While Flash Player is no more and these games are generally less popular, the elements of these classics can still be found in modern gaming formats. As mentioned above, mobile and indie games are basically the new Flash games, but that's not to say browser games as a whole are at a total loss.

The likes of Wordle and Geoguesser are played by hundreds of thousands daily, and the multiplayer AAA title Jackbox allows players to join a host via mobile and web browsers. You can still find many classic games online, on sites such as Newgrounds Games and even right here at JayIsGames. While Flash Player may be gone, this genre of games lives on in modern gaming.

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