Adobe sets its sights on the next cash cow: 'Console quality' gaming

Adobe is setting its sights on its latest cash cow venture: charging developers who create 'console quality' games.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Come August 1, Adobe is set to charge developers, who use its Flash platform to create 'console quality' games, 9 percent of net revenue beyond $50,000 if they make use of new premium features of the platform.

There are two premium feature APIs that Adobe will charge for.

The first is Stage3D, an API that is used for hardware acceleration, and the other is domain memory, which becomes useful when converting games previously written in a different language, such as C++.

According to Adobe the combination of these new APIs "enables unprecedented gaming experiences across the web" and allow "native game engines that power premiere titles on the most advanced modern console hardware to run directly on the web with no install, consistently across browsers, while reaching the largest possible audience."

The licensing fee will only apply to apps that make use of both these APIs. Adobe also says that a nominal program fee may be introduced in August, although no details have been released.

There are two exceptions to the licensing fee. First, apps released before August 1 will continue to be royalty-free. Second, Adobe will offer all the features found in the AIR 3.2 platform -- which can be used to package Flash content into standalone apps for iOS and Android -- and the premium features free of charge.

According to Emmy Huang, product manager for Flash Player, the license fee is designed to: "encourage the kind of innovation and experimentation that often helps to spark inspired and inventive games."

I'm unclear as to how charging developers a 9 percent fee will help encourage innovation and experimentation, beyond perhaps making them look at alternative technologies such as HTML5.

Huang also says that the new revenue stream will enable Adobe to further invest in Flash technologies.

It's hard to see where Adobe is going with this. Charging a licensing fee for game development tools is nothing new, but these are normally established ecosystems with established developers and a loyal customer base, such as the Xbox of PlayStation platforms.

What is seems that Adobe is doing is trying to now monetize what was once on offered free to developers. While for now only two features are subject to this licensing fee, it's now clear that Adobe is looking for new ways to monetize its existing platforms, and this could be enough to put developers off and make them look elsewhere.


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