Flash Player Emulators: How to Play SWF Files in 2021 and Beyond

Downloading SWF Files

Before you can use a Flash emulator, you will need to download an SWF that you wish to play. This guide goes over some simple approaches, and this tutorial from the Flashpoint web game preservation project has some additional tips. After you’ve downloaded some SWF files, you’ll be ready to try out the emulators!

Ruffle

Alien Hominid running in the Ruffle Web Demo

Lightspark

WAFlash

AwayFL

swf2js

Conclusion

There is clearly no “silver bullet” emulator that can play all SWFs. In its twenty-five-year history, Flash gained a plethora of features, many of which are a monumental challenge to emulate within the restricted sandbox of the modern web. Earlier, simpler Flash content is likely to work well enough with free emulators, but the outlook seems grim for newer, more advanced Flash content. Even paid options for emulating ActionScript 3 are severely lacking. Until Flash emulation matures, your best bet is probably to run the official Flash Player in a closed environment. I will explain your options for doing so in a future post — stay tuned!

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nosamu

nosamu

Administrator at BlueMaxima’s Flashpoint, Discord community manager at Ruffle. I enjoy writing about technology and its history.