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My stepfather currently plays FarmVille 2 on Facebook, which uses Flash (also, he uses a Windows 10 machine, if it makes any difference). As we all know, web browsers will stop offering Flash after the end of 2020.

I thought to myself, fine, I'll just keep an outdated browser lying around for the specific purpose of playing Flash games. What I didn't know, however, is that apparently Adobe will flip a killswitch and disable Flash entirely, regardless of your browser version.

Well, what do I do now? Is it possible to disable the killswitch? Would a local Flash player/emulator (ruffle.rs, BlueMaxima's Flashpoint) work (do note FarmVille 2 is an online game, with player interaction, so it can't be purely local)? Anything else?

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    In general (not in FV2 where it seems that it will have continued support) an online game may need to contact some central server, in order to show adverts/buy coins/whatever, and a) maybe the publisher decide to pull the plug of the server after the shutdown (since they do not expect users/income) and b) you cannot assume that the game is designed to run without the server being online. So even if you get to run the game perfectly on your computer, it could still fail to work. – SJuan76 Dec 16 '20 at 9:30
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    Relevant Youtube video: youtube.com/watch?v=oICOAbreOiU&t=11s – nick012000 Dec 16 '20 at 16:06
  • Well, even if you manage to keep Flash running locally and the company keeps the Flash game server running just for you the "player interaction" will be very limited... – Peter - Reinstate Monica Dec 18 '20 at 9:01
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Unfortunately, there's no current (legal) way to disable the Adobe Flash killswitch, and I would obviously not recommend trying to illegally "crack" copyrighted games unless you want angry lawyers coming your way. (It would also require a great deal of programming experience.) The Flash shutdown really, really sucks for older Flash games, including some of my own favorites.

However, many clever and wonderful people have been working on archiving old Flash games, and some game companies have released non-Flash updates in order to preserve their games.

For Farmville 2...

It sounds like you've already discovered Farmville 2 Launcher +, which is Zynga's official solution to the impending Farmville 2 shutdown. This is the only official way to continue playing Farmville 2 after the Flash shutdown occurs.

The launcher states that these are the supported platforms - possibly your issue is that you're trying to run it on Internet Explorer or a non-supported version of Windows?

The FV2 Launcher+ is currently available only to users of Windows 7 and 10, on Chrome and Firefox browsers only. We are working on making it available to Mac users and on other browsers. It is available on Facebook & Zyngagames.com too!.

If you're having trouble installing the launcher, they also provide an installer walkthrough about how to download and open the file and install the game, including a video tutorial.

Installation tutorial:

For other games...

There are tons of great projects that are archiving old Flash games so that they can work without Flash, in case you are interested in checking out other old Flash games. Some of the ones I've seen are Flash Game Archive and Internet Archive. The Flash Game Archive in particular now supports local offline play for many of its games.

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  • A bit unfortunate that there's really no way for regular Flash to work, and that the alternate solutions don't work online. Still, very thankful for the quality answer! I have managed to go through the whole install process, and as i mentioned in the post, the computer runs Windows 10; it's been a while since i last tried the launcher, but i think it hangs on a loading screen? Here's to hoping i can figure out things on the next try! – Reno Dec 15 '20 at 22:04
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    Flashpoint is also worth a look! – Hearth Dec 16 '20 at 4:59
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    ‘there's no current (legal) way to disable the Adobe Flash killswitch, and I would obviously not recommend trying to illegally "crack" copyrighted games’ — you wouldn’t be cracking the games, but the Adobe Flash runtime, that’s one thing. Another is that the copyright law of some jurisdictions (I’m not too familiar with the US) contains carve-outs that allow locally patching otherwise legally-obtained software for purposes of repair (which this arguably is), so patching the kill switch out of the Flash plugin is not necessarily illegal either. Distributing patched versions is another matter. – user3840170 Dec 18 '20 at 14:37
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    No "legal" way to control software on my computer? That's definitely one of the problems with current copyright-law. For Adobe to go and alter my running software - that should be considered criminal-trespass (yeah, I know there's probably a 99-page license-agreement that says they can do anything...) – Cyclops Dec 18 '20 at 15:16
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    @user3840170 Arguably (and hopefully correctly) you can do anything you want on your computer as long as it doesn't violate any other law (like copyright). Distributing patched Flash would be a copyright problem; patching Flash wouldn't. – user253751 Dec 18 '20 at 18:02
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Disclaimer: This suggestion is dangerous and can leave you vulnerable to security exploits.

You can download an old version of Firefox which does not have the Flash killswitch from https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/

You can download an old Flash version which does not have the killswitch from https://adobe_flash_player.en.downloadastro.com/old_versions/

Avoid installing the KB4577586 update on your machine. According to https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/microsoft/microsoft-releases-update-to-remove-adobe-flash-from-windows/ the update is optional and only available via the Microsoft Catalog so I'm not sure if that means Windows will not automatically apply it.

Preferably, you would do this all in a virtual machine dedicated to running Farmville 2.

In the end this will probably be fruitless as Zynga themselves will likely remove the Flash version of Farmville 2 from the Internet.

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    I didn't downvote, but probably because it's dangerous and can leave you vulnerable to security exploits? I don't think there's a version of Flash Player available that doesn't have both no killswitch and known serious security vulnerabilities. It's just not safe. – Zach Lipton Dec 16 '20 at 18:56
  • @ZachLipton I think it's because if Flash is killed client-side in so many clients, servers will eventually stop hosting the games. It's a temporary workaround at best. – Mast Dec 18 '20 at 7:51
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    It is worth noting KB4577586 only applies to Microsoft browsers (Internet Explorer.) – tomysshadow Dec 20 '20 at 3:02
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Although you may not be able to, it's possible the websites themselves will be able to, using the Rust language project called Ruffle, a Flash Emulator. You described it as a local-emulator, but that's not all it is.

Ruffle is a Flash Player emulator written in Rust. Ruffle runs natively on all modern operating systems as a standalone application, and on all modern browsers through the use of WebAssembly. Leveraging the safety of the modern browser sandbox and the memory safety guarantees of Rust, we can confidently avoid all the security pitfalls that Flash had a reputation for. Ruffle puts Flash back on the web, where it belongs - including iOS and Android!

Designed to be easy to use and install, users or website owners may install the web version of Ruffle and existing flash content will "just work", with no extra configuration required. Ruffle will detect all existing Flash content on a website and automatically "polyfill" it into a Ruffle player, allowing seamless and transparent upgrading of websites that still rely on Flash content.

Originally I only thought this was worth a comment. But looking at it again - if major sites like Farmville are Flash-only, it seems like they'd have a major incentive to keep their sites running. So that's one way you could keep playing online-only games, if they switch over to Ruffle.

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  • Seriously - Farmville's gross-revenue (for multiple versions) is 311 million in 2019? I don't see them letting anything stop them from keeping it running. :) – Cyclops Dec 16 '20 at 18:24
  • Note that there's a Ruffle browser extension, too! – wizzwizz4 Dec 16 '20 at 21:29
  • As pointed out in other answers, Zynga have already release their solution to keeping the game running: the "Launcher+", which according to the FAQ is a port of the game to AIR. AIR is a desktop cousin of Flash which looks set to be supported for the foreseeable future, but by a company called HARMAN, not Adobe themselves. So an official emulator port seems unlikely. More likely they'll release "Farmville 3" using some other modern platform. – IMSoP Dec 16 '20 at 22:01
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What I didn't know, however, is that apparently Adobe will flip a killswitch and disable Flash entirely, regardless of your browser version.

This will most likely work, as long as the browser version is old enough not to have the killswitch-enabled version of the Flash plugin, so anything prior to ~2018 should work. We won't know for sure until the EOL date comes along, but it shouldn't take too long to figure out which is the latest version without a killswitch. I would also expect Flash enthusiasts to come out with patches to the latest Flash client that would block the killswitch functionality entirely.

So install a version of Chrome from 2017, ensure to completely disable its auto-update functionality and then check back on January 13th 2021 to see if you need to download a special patch or use a different workaround to force Flash to run on your machine permanently.

Note that officially speaking Flash is being deprecated for security reasons, so its better to run it inside a virtual machine to be safe - or use it on an air-gapped computer with no Internet access.

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    You should probably make clear that by running an old, unpatched browser, and/or an old, unpatched Flash Player, you are leaving yourself open to security problems. That's obviously a valid personal choice, but it should be one taken after careful consideration of the risks, not as a quick fix to play your favourite game. – IMSoP Dec 16 '20 at 14:31
  • @IMSoP you can run it in a virtual machine or container if you want to be safe – JonathanReez Dec 16 '20 at 16:28
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    You missed the point: I know what sensible precautions would look like, but your answer doesn't mention any, or even any downsides of your suggestion. For a non-technical user, this answer could easily be read as "bah, what do Google and Adobe know, just run the old thing, you'll be fine!" – IMSoP Dec 16 '20 at 16:44
  • @IMSoP ok, updated to add virtual machine information – JonathanReez Dec 16 '20 at 21:46
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    The Flash version which added the killswitch is the June 2020 update. The last non-killswitch version is 32.0.0.363. Only the browser plugin is impacted. Projectors are unaffected. – tomysshadow Dec 20 '20 at 3:04
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You can find old versions of Firefox bundled with old versions of Flash Player.

Firefox is open source and this kind of redistribution is completely legal. As for Flash, this might be illegal or it might be gray area (illegal but tolerated) as happens with most abandonware, or even legal (fair use for research?). Laws are different in different jurisdictions though. If legal security is required: hire a lawyer. Don't expect anybody here to know the full answer to the legal point.

You should take all the comments in all the answers here about how unsafe Flash is to heart.

I found a Firefox + Flash pack that works on a forum-based torrent site. For security, I am only using it within Sandboxie.

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Depending on how much your stepfather wants to keep playing FarmVille 2 and if you can't get it running with the launcher, there is one way that might still allow Flash to function, although I'm not 100% sure and it depends on how the kill switch is triggered.

This blog from September 2020 says that the removal of Flash from Windows machines will happen via a Windows update: https://blogs.windows.com/msedgedev/2020/09/04/update-adobe-flash-end-support/

all the APIs, group polices and user interfaces that specifically govern the behavior of Adobe Flash Player will be removed from Microsoft Edge (legacy) and Internet Explorer 11 via the latest “Cumulative Update” on Windows 10 platforms and via “Cumulative Update for Internet Explorer 11” or “Monthly Rollup” on Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard. Also, the “Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player” will be included as part of the “Cumulative Update” and “Monthly Rollup” this point forward.

If you can get hold of an old Windows 7 machine, either an old laptop or re-imaging and existing one with an old install of Windows 7, might.... might allow Flash to continue working through Internet Explorer 11 as there don't appear to be any plans to roll out the removal tool to old Windows 7 machines.

I have an old Windows 7 machine that I use for development purposes and Adobe Flash has been throwing up messages asking me to uninstall it prior to the 31st Dec 2020 deadline. This prompt may eventually force the uninstallation for Flash after the 2020 deadline, so you might need to find a way of preventing this.

Overall though, your best bet is to continue to work on getting the official launcher working.

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    You should probably make clear that by installing old, unsupported software, and disabling updates, you are leaving yourself open to security problems. That's obviously a valid personal choice, but it should be one taken after careful consideration of the risks, not as a quick fix to play your favourite game. – IMSoP Dec 16 '20 at 14:33

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