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Quick comments about Unity and premium features

I’m sitting at the Seattle airport at the moment but I just wanted to clarify a couple of things about the announcements we made last night. Firstly we announced that we now have a partnership in place with Unity. Our teams working together will make their Flash export feature even better in the future. Big shout out to Ralph and the Unity for their awesome work on it!

The second thing we announced is a new premium feature model for the desktop browser runtime. This model is there to allow Adobe to make revenue from large, web-based Flash games like the ones that we expect to come out of Unity and other tools. Building a real game platform means that we have to be able to make revenue to fund its development. When talking with game companies at GDC, most prefer this model because they are much more confident about deploying to a platform that we are actively making money from.

So in a nutshell this is what the premium features mean. If you create a game that uses Stage3D GPU AND uses the Alchemy opcodes then you will need to get a license key from Adobe. Then if your game makes over $50,000 in revenue, your game will subject to a 9% revenue share that you will pay to Adobe. This does not apply at all to Adobe AIR. So you can use Stage3D and the opcodes as much as you want with no license. I have seen a lot of chatter online basically saying that people will have to pay a cut to Adobe in addition to the cut Apple and Google take. This is completely false. There is NO licensing needed when deploying to mobile.

I know there are a tons of edge cases here surrounding the use of the opcodes and I will be writing more in-depth about them very soon. Read through the two links below to get more details.

Premium features overview
Premium features FAQ

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  1. How is the following case handled? I create a game for a major online gaming portal. I use Unity and create a SWF file with my license key in it. Now, I get paid a one-time flat fee and Adobe sees the game gets played millions of times and charges… me?

    Is that really intended that we start exchanging license keys with gaming portals to ensure that the right one gets the bill from Adobe?

    All I can say so far from this announcement: Adobe, work FOR us, not AGAINST us.

  2. As usual, thanks for the candid clarification!

    One thing I’m still not clear on, though:

    “Then if your game makes over $50,000 in revenue, your game will subject to a 9% revenue share that you will pay to Adobe.”

    Does that mean if your app does not make $50K, there is no cost at all? And does the 9% apply retroactively to the $50K made thus far?

    I mainly ask because I’m quite certain I will never make $50K on a desktop game. :)

  3. “most prefer this model because they are much more confident about deploying to a platform that we are actively making money from”

    Does Adobe not make money from Flash Builder and Flash Professional licensing?

  4. I’m sorry but, people will have to pay(?) to make games with flash??! LOL! With so many other greater technologies around why would people use flash? Can Adobe give us a single reason why would we choose flash as a game development platform? (and pay for it?)

    Adobe has failed so many times:
    – AS2 / AS3 Conversion. Great AS2 applications were made and Adobe failed to give support from AS2 to AS3, making those companies waste money and efforts on redoing everything from ground up to AS3 (thats an epic fail)
    – The “so much acclaimed” 3D support with the flash player 10 (this was a joke, right?!?)
    – Dropout of flash mobile (no words to describe it…)
    – And finally this… paying for nothing.

    Why should we trust on a company such as Adobe?

    Lee, I have a great respect for what you have been doing all these years, and I’m really greatful for all your knowledge sharing, but Adobe is dead.

  5. When a “game platform” such as unreal engine charges royalties for their toolset, typically those tools add significant value to the project. Editors, physics, modelers, pipeline tools. Adobe wants 10% of your game revenues so that it doesn’t run slow? Tell me again ho this is a good value?

  6. Thanks Lee. Good to hear that AIR mobile won’t be effected. I get why you guys would charge a % on commercial online games making so much, as companies like Zygna have made billions off Adobe’s free platform, so a company like that can afford to pony up a bit more than the cost of a tools IMO.

    I have a question though. I’m going to look into opcodes for my own projects for AIR mobile, which are already being built on Stage3D. Do I still need to contact Adobe for a license key in this case?

  7. Thx Lee!

    I think y’all read that wrong! Adobe just anointed all AS devs to AAA status, whilst maintaining your DIY principles 😀 No longer do we have to troll thru bannal werk.

    Adobe has gone Premium, its bottle service up in this beyatch! Hey look the Directors back!

    Get used to working in game studios, NOT agencies. Let the ads begin “I am the 91%!”

    To quote Our Father: “I’m altering the deal, pray I don’t alter it any further.”

  8. Haha, it seems that Adobe (as a company) just can’t communicate with the community in a proper way;) Every Adobe announcement generates bad PR… They should be thankful for your (all evangelists) work!

  9. Well after 14 years of flash ….. and lovin flash.
    I think i will quit it all together.
    Licencing where it was fully opensource.
    Not delivering where they should have 5 years ago.

    Wat has happened to Adobe and Flash ?
    The once so strong community with vibrant developers and a good innovative ambience.
    It was about making cool new stuff and share that with the community.

    Now…. Adobe just seems to look for money.
    And not caring about the large community of (once) dedicated developers that would make the world turn just for the love of it.
    What the…. has happend ?!

    Its sad.
    Read sad.

  10. Maybe you should do the PR. It’s stated pretty clearly here. However, MY concern has nothing to do with this licensing agreement. I’m affected because of the way Adobe is adding uncertainty to Flash. (On the site) I see all kinds of mentions of AIR/iOS… but how can I depend on Adobe supporting that? Frankly, if I can’t finish a job in a matter of weeks, it’s risky to use AIR. I’m already disillusioned by the lack of support to fix bugs and keep up with technology–namely iPad3.

    I’ll always be one to complain about “support” and such–but, man, when I have to defend Adobe constantly or try to justify their technology to my clients, I’m exerting a lot of effort that ends up making me look the fool when Adobe pulls something like removing support for LCCS. I’m sure they thought that one through but what I’m frustrated by is the lack of a clear direction. Even if it’s not true the “truth” in the tech world is “Flash is dead” and it’s been replaced by “HTML5”. The Flash Premium “truth” is that Adobe’s just reaching for a way to get some money from the last few die-hards using Flash. Mind you, I didn’t think that was the truth but it has become the truth because of Adobe’s lack of messaging. (Don’t even get me started about the fact you don’t have a CEO.)

    Is it just a matter of horrible PR or does the company lack focus?

    I see lots of great value in Adobe technologies but that doesn’t relate to their stability. AIR offers a great value proposition but I can’t trust Adobe won’t do something dumb… or change the licensing model. As it stands, Adobe either doesn’t care or doesn’t have the ability to support it. (For all I know AIR 3.2 includes the iOS 5.1 SDK–I don’t even want to stop my current project to test it because it took me so long already to get my set up working correctly using AIR 3.1.)

    By the way, the deal says you won’t come after AIR apps. Why not? They make money too. I happen to agree that Adobe SHOULD be looking for ways to cash in. And, I agree that Adobe making money can help them make the technologies that I can make money with. But what I can’t do is carry the PR for Adobe.

  11. This is bad, this could be the one descision that finally kills of flash. I was starting to have high hopes for the flash future, but this is very bad, i am worried.

    Licensesing to gett full performance just feels wrong.

  12. DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND that this would KILL flash overall!?!?

    Nowadays that html5 is moving along to be a real flash contender, and flash player for mobile gone obsolete with adobe’t decision!!!.. this seems to be the final SHOT to flash developers… AT LEAST for those that try to develop games OVER THE WEB for either pure enrtetainment OR simple advergames!!!

    SHOULD they pay adobe for using their own provided platform and still develop for unity ?

    PLEASE clarify this because if this is true, it would really KILL flash as a real developing tool COMPLETELY!!!

  13. @christian you just don’t get it. Adobe deciding to implement some new licensing scheme like this just reinforces what the Open Web people have been saying for ages: You can’t trust a single corporate entity to control the codebase/player/ecosystem. The fact that the arbitrary cutoff of 50k they came up with won’t affect most devs is not relevant. The fact that there is a new licensing scheme in place that wasn’t there a few days ago is.

  14. On the upside, one can still develop for Unity without ever caring about the Flash Player.

    The fee works as a disincentive. I realize adobe needs to make money somehow, but charging for stuff that has been free simply and intuitively makes everyone look for alternatives.

    I give it a year, more heads will roll at Adobe and they will hire business people who know how to help adobe focus on what it does best in a revenue model that works. This current series of bait-and-switch focus + revenue model + industry segment abandonment will force the issue soon enough.

    I am waiting on a version of Adobe that seems familiar to one day again emerge from this current mess (reminds me of the dark days of Apple when Microsoft had to bail them out). Until then I refuse to invest in this new short lived start-up-venture-style approach to reinventing their focus.

    Good luck, Lee. Love to see that you continue to innovate. Sad to see that it is now in more of a walled garden.

  15. Final thought … can we expect to see more revenue models like this from Adobe? Will they start charging for popular PDF-views in Acrobat? Or make typing a period a “pro” feature?

    Just kidding.

  16. So let’s say you develop a Unity for Flash social game. What are you paying for?
    – Unity software
    – Flash software
    – License key from Adobe (Is there a price for this?)
    – Potential 9% revenue share for Adobe
    – X% revenue share for Social Platform (Facebook, Google+…)

    Unity does NOT follow this “revenue share” model and it is a FULL game development platform. How can you compare yourselves with Unity which includes in it’s license full use of industry standard technology such as level editor, rendering, lighting, terrain editor, physics, path finding, and supports 3 different scripting languages. All Flash has in this area is the rendering layer. One can not even build 3D games with your platform without using other libraries. How do you justify this move?

    Personally, you are driving me and many of my colleagues away from Flash and into the arms of HTML5, Unity and Corona.

  17. I am wondering when these bad news will stop coming. Well, I guess soon enough, Adobe keeps killing Flash. While I understand Adobe needs to generate profit, this move seems once again rather sad. 9% of the revenue? Oh well, wow!
    I do not expect this to affect me anyhow, to tell the truth. However, this may affect other developers. Adobe, instead of gaining the developers back, seems to be desperately trying to push them away. Good work.

    I cannot trust this company anymore, it has proven that it does not deserve it. Go, screw yourself, Ap… Adobe!

  18. Why do people go bananas over every little thing? This change won’t affect 98% of Flash Devs out there. People are moaning about 9% ABOVE $50k on desktop apps (that leverage a specific technology), yet have no problem paying 30% PER SALE to Apple?

    Save your outrage for something outrageous.

  19. There certainly are a bunch of selective readers posting comments here. Adobe is working on improving performance in Flash. All of you people whining about a so called “speed tax” are conveniently leaving that out. Everything that Adobe has said indicates that future versions of Flash will be faster than the Flash we have today, even WITH the current version of Alchemy.

    And I’m sorry, but those of you complaining about Adobe getting more income off of Flash are just blind. That’s the only way Flash’s existence can ever be justified. Premium features are a great reason to have hope for Flash. The ONLY way Adobe can ever make that model work is to create functionality that is highly valuable and unavailable anywhere else. The fact that Adobe is committing to pursue such goals is an incredibly good sign. Those are the two factors that are needed to create adoption and jobs – jobs for Flash developers. Don’t you see how such a sales model completely ties success to product value in a way that’s far more complementary than just selling tools to a relatively small market?

    As competitive as browsers are getting with HTML5 and JS, I find it promising to think that Adobe may be able to find a financial model that allows them to spend more time and money on improving the platform itself rather than tools, especially since the competition in the tools market is stiff on its own. The biggest problem for Flash over the last several years has been the enormity of the development effort – supporting mobiles, supporting vastly different use cases, developing multiple IDE’s, etc. It’s a real change to see Flash refocused to try to simply be the best at a few things, rather than a jack of all trades, master of none.

  20. So Adobe abandoned Flash on mobile, has begun to abandon Flash on the desktop by dropping Linux support, no plugins are supported in IE10 in Metro mode, and now there are extra charges if you try to use particular Flash features. The Flash plugin is finished I think. Time to move on.

  21. I think 9 % is fair, Adobe should get this money in order to invest in the palyer development and it charges only if you exceed $50K, it’s reasonable if you ask me.

  22. Well actually, I think this is not bad at all. Compared to the November 2011 disaster, this announcement is much better. Thanks for clarifying things.

    I hope other product-based decisions are in line with what you have announced, though. Killing off AIR for Linux, making Flash Player for Linux to be Chrome only (I think), cutting of Flash Builder features and discontinuing Flash Catalyst aren’t going to make developers feel good. (Oh yeah, Flash Catalyst… I can only imagine another wave of Adobe-bashing when CS6 comes out and people find no FC there.)

  23. Why is it that every time Adobe makes an announcement, evangelists such as yourself always have to clarify it? Actually in this case I think Adobe PR did a pretty good job at the announcement – they focused on the added value of the premium features instead of the license, but didn’t try to hide or obscure the licensing model.

    I guess the problem is that the licensing model IS very complicated in the first place, and lots of people will only hear about it through hearsay, not from the source. I seriously doubt an announcement like this could have been handled in a better way, so the question is why Adobe decided to take the calculated risk by making such an announcement, knowing that your brand would take yet another public beating for it.

    You should have made the announcement the exact same way, but waited until the day in the very short future where the full Creative Cloud will be announced. The Creative Cloud contains so much added value for everybody that the negative aspects of the Flash Licensing model would have been drowned in a layer of sugar.