Google, Mozilla, and even Adobe itself have been slowly phasing out Flash for the past couple of years: This came to a head in January 2021, when support for Flash ended entirely and major platforms, including Adobe, officially stopped running Flash and started blocking Flash content. The replacements are HTML5, WebGL, and similar technologies that allow for better security and leaner, more versatile content.
So, where does that leave you? Well, you can no longer use Flash on Google Chrome — but your Chromebook is safer for it. The Flash plugin that allowed you to enable Flash on certain sites will no longer work, and the Chrome 88 update to Chromium will remove Flash capability there as well. Even the independent, freeware version of the Flash Player offered by Adobe is set to block Flash content from running after January 12, 2021 (and Adobe highly recommends uninstalling the Player).
While this may be a step forward for the internet, it’s a letdown for those who enjoyed traditional Flash games or who worked with Flash in the past and kept their beloved Flash files. But all is not totally lost: We recommend two different options for Flash activities that may be able to bring some of the spark back. Here’s what to try and how they work.
Flashpoint is a game preservation project from BlueMaxima. It’s designed to preserve game experiences online for future use even when supporting technologies no longer enable them — which means a lot of its focus is on Flash games. Since starting in 2018, the project has saved over 70,000 games and more than 8,000 animations thanks to its band of international contributors.
The clever combination of open-source software and support for the latest technologies allow users to play Flash games on the Flashpoint platform without the problems involved when trying to use Flash. While the collection doesn’t offer every Flash game ever made, it’s still the most exhaustive list available: If you remember a popular Flash game from its glory days, chances are very good you can find it on here (except for Nitrome games, as the creator asked BlueMaxima to remove all their titles).
The software is primarily designed to work on Windows, and support isn’t a priority for other operating systems, but it should still function on Chrome. It’s also specifically designed to work past the 2021 Flash deadlines. If you have any issues with software operation or downloads, their Discord is a good place to ask specific questions and get help.
Interested in downloading? You have two options, but only one is really suitable for Chromebooks. Head to its download page and choose Flashpoint Infinity 9.0. This is a web-powered version of the software with minimal download requirements and the ability to play specific downloaded games offline. The other option, Flashpoint Ultimate, downloads everything locally so that anything can be used offline, but that requires more than 500GBs of free storage, something far beyond most Chrome machines.
Ruffle is an ambitious emulator made with Rust, while offering browser support via WebAssembly. It’s designed to automatically detect Flash content and translate it into a form that can be safely run on the emulator. Like Flashpoint, one of its primary goals is to help save Flash content once the Flash Player can no longer be used, but the emulator is designed to be paired with Flash content you may already have, so it’s a good choice when trying to access older Flash files on your computer or use outdated websites that may still rely on Flash.
If you think Ruffle is right for you, you once again have two different options. The first is a browser extension available for Chrome that you can extract on this page and enable with Chrome Developer mode. It automatically updates and is great for dealing with Flash issues while navigating the internet.
The other option is a desktop application that can be used offline without a browser, more suitable if you have old Flash files on local storage that you would like to access. For this version, Ruffle has a consistently updated release that you can download and implement, although it’s primarily designed to work with Linux, Windows, and MacOS, not ChromeOS, so compatibility isn’t guaranteed. Note that Ruffle can also be implemented on self-hosted websites to temporarily get around Flash problems without bringing the whole site down.
Finally, Ruffle is open-source and still in constant early development, so your performance may be a little turbulent. This is another case where it may be a good idea to join the Ruffle Discord and pose any questions if you run into difficulties.