Adobe’s 9% Flash tax  

Nicolas Cannasse reports on an announcement by Adobe about a new ‘feature’ for Flash: a 9% tax of your net revenues for using certain features.

Basically, what it means is that you’ll have to get a license from Adobe and pay them 9% of your net revenues if you want to use the “premium features” together with Stage3D API which allow hardware-accelerated 3D in the browser.

These APIs are crucial to making 3D games in Flash that run at a decent speed. As Nicholas puts it, Adobe just made decent speed a “premium feature”.

Honestly, Adobe just killed the idea of making 3D flash games, especially for independent game developers that don’t make that much money that they can afford paying Adobe taxes.

I think it’s pretty peculiar that Adobe would announce such a regressive tax, which is not just a fixed price, but a percentage of your net revenues. Adobe normally licenses the tools and servers used to create and host Flash content, rather than the SWF format itself. In this case, even if you created the SWF yourself (using tools like haxe), you’d still have to pay the tax.

Granted, the tax does only kick in if you’re making more than an arbitrary 50k per game, but it also raises questions about how Adobe are going to collect this money. Are Flash game companies going to have to reveal all their internal revenue details, and is Adobe going to regulate this somehow?

In my opinion, this violates the fundamental openness of the SWF format, and could be a first step to licensing the usage of the product as a whole. The fact that Adobe is announcing this under the guise of premium features is just the icing on the cake.


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