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YouTube Stumbles Into Flash Gaming

Amid the flowering of Google's strategic relationship with Adobe, a Flash-based game has appeared and disappeared on YouTube.

Google's defense of Adobe's Flash technology may end up helping YouTube expand its horizons beyond video.

Google's YouTube on Wednesday launched a Flash-based game called Chrome FastBall that mixes video with a series of interactive quiz elements.

It's Chrome speed propaganda, but it also suggests that people at YouTube are entertaining thoughts about new market opportunities. YouTube advertisers have already dabbled in Flash games, but this appears to be the first YouTube-sanctioned game.

Initially, Chrome FastBall hasn't proven to be all that fast. In fact, it began loading slowly, if at all, about an hour after its launch due to a surge of interest.

The blog post announcing the game saw this update added at 9:22am PT: "Due to the overwhelming response to the game, some things aren't quite working as we hoped due to server-side overloading. Please forgive the maintenance work as we get the game back up again."

About an hour later, the game was running again, but it subsequently crumpled under the load. The apology on the blog subsequently migrated to the YouTube game page. A Google spokesperson said YouTube hopes to restore the game before the end of the day on Wednesday.

The game, says Google product manager Jeff Chang, is a celebration of Google's release of a new version of Google Chrome that comes with Adobe Flash Player built-in, rather than as an add-on that must be installed. (Nonetheless it works in Firefox with Flash installed, and probably other browsers as well.)

Google says that integrating Flash Player into Chrome mitigates the risk of outdated browser plug-ins through Chrome's automatic update mechanism. The company also says that it will soon extend Chrome's "sandbox" to include Flash content on Web pages, which will further protect against malicious content.

YouTube's conspicuous use of Flash comes a day after YouTube platforms product manager Kuan Yong published a blog post about the continued need for Flash to serve video on YouTube.

Despite Apple CEO Steve Jobs's claim that Flash represents that past and HTML5 represents the future, Google and YouTube manage to keep offering reminders that Flash is quite useful in the present.

At the same time, it's worth noting that Chrome FastBall also incorporates HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS. Make of that what you will.

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