Adobe allies with Unity for Flash Player 11.2 release, introduces premium APIs

Adobe announced Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2 versions today along with a set of premium APIs for PC and mobile games. The software giant is also collaborating with Unity to create a unified workflow that can deliver Unity games via Flash.

The premium APIs are a combination of the GPU accelerated Stage3D APIs Adobe first announced with Flash Player 11 last fall and fast memory op codes. On mobile via Adobe AIR, developers can use the APIs for free — but on Flash Player 11, the software company takes a 9 percent cut of revenues after the first $50,000. These terms go into effect August 1, 2012, giving developers between now and then to determine if the APIs are suitable for their games. Adobe acknowledges that the majority of gaming content currently created in Flash probably won’t need to use the premium features. Developers do not have to pay royalties on each of the APIs if used alone or on software rendering of Stage3D with or without the op codes.

The Unity collaboration is born of Unity’s own efforts to tap into the Flash audience without players needing to download a plugin. In September of last year, Unity announced that it would support Flash in future versions — which is what prompted Adobe to reach out and work with the company to create a unified workflow that better serves developers. The Unity 3.5 Flash export functionality is currently in preview mode, but beyond that release, Adobe says it’s also working on integrating future Adobe gaming services into Unity. At some point, we may see Adobe partner with other engine creators on similar projects — in October last year, we saw Epic Games’ Unreal Engine running Unreal Tournament on Flash.

Both moves seem like solid ones for Adobe. By introducing APIs as a service, rather than giving them away with a one-time purchases of its authoring software, the company can take a slice of the virtual goods revenues social and mobile game developers enjoy. At the same time, Adobe is also building bridges to console video game developers, providing a way for non-Flash developers to tap into Flash’s broad reach on PCs in the social and casual games space. The Unity collaboration reinforces the approach, and Adobe tells us it’s working with a number of 3rd party frameworks to help developers to reach 2D or 3D content markets.

Interestingly, Adobe is pushing a monetization angle in Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2. By creating a unified platform for desktop and mobile, it hopes to reduce fragmentation in those markets. Adobe also plans to offer analytics and revenue optimization features as part of its game services in the near future — not unlike what we see from Kontagent or Flurry.

While Unity isn’t that common in social games, it definitely has traction in mobile games. CEO and co-founder David Helgason told Inside Mobile Apps earlier this month that mobile developers account for over half of the company’s total business. On Facebook, the healthiest Unity game we’ve seen so far is CMUNE’s UberStrike, which requires a plugin.

You can find out more about the premium APIs and the Unity collaboration on Adobe’s Digital Media blog.

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