Thursday, May 04, 2006

The shoe has dropped

So Adobe has flipped the switch. If you try to go to, you get redirected to

This is not all that surprising or strange. After all, Adobe did buy Macromedia.

What's bad news is what you'll see when you get there. All of us Macromedia Director developers have been waiting with baited breath to see which of two scenarios plays out with the new owners:
  1. Adobe executives have clue - they realize what a market-cornering gold mine they have on their hands with Director's Shockwave3D technology, and position it to be the foremost application for the next battleground of the game developer's industry: casual gaming.
  2. Adobe executives lack clue - they fail to realize the gold mine they have on their hands, and marginalize or possibly even phase out Director.

Unfortunately, the new Adobe/Macromedia site seems to point toward the latter option. Director is not even listed on their main list of products off of the main page, but, more tellingly, the Shockwave Player is not listed on the main list of downloads, which means they must not care about maintaining one of the potentially most valuable properties they have: the Shockwave install base. The ubiquity of the Flash and Shockwave players is their number one advantage over lean, hungry startups that will try to overtake them. Even now, longtime Director developers are murmuring about defecting to Virtools or Torque, and the main argument the loyalists use to try to keep them in the fold is "Yeah, but where's the install base?"

I honestly don't know what the Adobe executives are thinking. They must either be idiots or totally unaware of the head of steam casual games have built up. The research firm IDC projects that casual games will account for $762 million in sales next year (source) - and Adobe has a (small) window of opportunity to really position themselves as owning the dominant development platform for them. If they were to update the Shockwave3D engine, it would be a powerhouse of 'net gaming, and they could expand the market considerably if they were to make it capable of publishing to Xbox Live (or the other casual game services coming for PS3 and the Wii). Instead, Adobe is stuffing their golden goose in the attic, unused.

I guess it's time to start learning the Torque engine.

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