When Will Game Developers Realise Flash is Not the Way?

I don’t game much (anymore), but I still consider myself somewhat of an enthusiast: I monitor the release (and hype) of new games and technology, and I occassionally test new games when they’re released. And in all my years of monitoring new releases, I’m yet to find a website which:

  • Doesn’t use Flash,
  • Conforms to web standards,
  • Hasn’t got annoying sounds playing, even when I don’t want them to.

As pretty as some flash websites might be, Flash is a huge hinder when it comes to a lot of aspects. Copy/pasting the contents of the website for instance, or linking to a specific part of the website. Instead, you have to go start at the very beginning, skip an annoying intro (if you can), navigate through hundreds of different pages to end up at a final page.

It’s the evil truth, and while I love most of their games, I’ve noticed that it’s particularly games distributed by Eidos Group[1] [2] [3].

Take a look at these websites. It’s quite easy to make just as pretty websites using nothing but HTML and CSS–Flash really isn’t needed. Flash, for instance, isn’t available on all exotic platforms[4], and in this way, all Eidos is actually doing is prohibiting its customer base from viewing its products. Look at the Tomb Raider site for instance (provided you’re not using an exotic/BSD platform–as you then can’t. Hah.). Pretty much everything on that site (except the sounds on mouse-hovers and stuff, but that’s my actual point. They’re useless.) could be done with nothing but CSS, HTML and perhaps a bit of JavaScript. It’s easy. The only thing I can see as a problem, is the compass. And sure, you could stick a small square Flash applet in there, and it would be fine. Or do a UserAgent check, and decide if Flash isn’t installed, you’d instead view an animated gif, or just a static image.

It really gets to me, because people don’t visit websites because they’re visually orgasmic–they visit them because they want the content, and what Flash does (in a lot of cases I’ve seen), is to move the focus from the content to the design–are game developers smart, knowing their games aren’t really that interesting, or are they just ignorant? My bet is on the latter.

5 responses to “When Will Game Developers Realise Flash is Not the Way?”

  1. Dean Newman responded on May 7th, 2007 at 3:36 pm | permalink

    Movie producers are just as bad… when announcing movies they are always using flash, take “The Simpsons Movie” for example. http://www.simpsonsmovie.com/

  2. Lasse Havelund responded on May 7th, 2007 at 3:37 pm | permalink

    Yeah, you’re right–when there’s no apparent reason to do so. Lesigh.

  3. Jeremy responded on May 8th, 2007 at 1:00 am | permalink

    If I remember correctly, I think Flash-based websites are technically illegal in Australia, because of the coverage of anti-discrimination laws here. Flash-based sites discriminate against people with a disability that depend on things like a screen reader.

    Of course, I emphasised the word technically, because nobody ever does that. Somebody once came up with the conclusion that any site that’s not valid (X)HTML is against the laws here, but error handling is a part of the SGML specification, is it not? ;) I guess you could say a webpage without a DOCTYPE discriminates because it relies on unstandardised de-facto behaviour of browsers.

  4. Yian responded on May 8th, 2007 at 3:06 am | permalink

    Jeremy: Eh, but using Australia’s logic, a website filled with images without alt tags (I’ve seen those before) would be discriminatory too, no? =P I think everything is discriminatory in some manner, it’s just a matter of how serious the discrimination is. In any case, the law is rather amusing…

    And Flash is sometimes annoying (but Java applets are worse when they don’t warn you). But it’s not just limited to game developers–lots of photographers/designers use it too, when they could easily code their site with plain HTML and CSS.

  5. Lasse Havelund responded on May 8th, 2007 at 7:27 am | permalink

    I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in the UK aswell, but I don’t think it’s actually enforced anywhere you have that rule.

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