Facebook has jumped on the cloud gaming bandwagon, launching cloud-based games in the Facebook app for Android and via browsers. Gamers can begin playing immediately with no downloads or special controllers needed. In an early test, Facebook had 200,000 players try the new service. The service will initially roll out in a handful of states including California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and West Virginia before rolling out to the rest of the country. The service is not intended to replace Facebook’s existing games.
Jason Rubin, vice president of play at Facebook shared information about the cloud gaming platform on the Facebook Gaming blog Monday.
“Cloud game streaming promises to deliver unprecedented access to games across every screen. And while we’re thrilled to play a part in that future, that future is a ways off. So before we talk about our aspirations, let me start with what we’re not doing. Cloud gaming announcements are prone to hype, so I’m going to speak openly from the outset,” Rubin said.
What Facebook’s cloud gaming won’t be
Here is what Facebook is not going to do, according to Rubin:
- They are going to take their time with the cloud gaming product and not make big promises. Rubin said that cloud game streaming is new, and they want to explore the possibilities before making big promises to gamers.
- Facebook is not trying to replace existing gaming systems – well, at least not PC and console gaming systems. They did not address whether they are trying to compete with other cloud gaming services like Apple Arcade, Google Stadia and the new Amazon Luna.
- Facebook Gaming will start with a free-to-play model and a focus on mobile device play. Once the company has the systems and infrastructure in place for a more sophisticated experience, this could change. Rubin told The Verge that “there may come a day when it makes sense for us to offer a premium game.”
- Rubin said Facebook is not going to start their own cloud gaming service. This new option for Facebook games will supplement the games that 380 million people play each month on Facebook already. The company said they hope the platform is seamless enough that players won’t even notice how they are getting their games.
- Facebook Gaming is not launching on iOS at this time. They’ll start by launching on Android and web browsers. Rubin said he doesn’t know if launching in the App Store is viable: “Apple treats games differently and continues to exert control over a very precious resource.”
Players interested in checking out Facebook games can find them in two formats: full, free-to-play mobile games via Facebook Play, and cloud playable ads so people can instantly try out a game on Facebook. Cloud playable ads show up in a Facebook user’s feed. The user can click on the ad to sample the game without having to exit or go to another tab on the social media platform. Facebook has partnered with 2K, FunPlus, Gameloft, Glu Mobile, Gram Games, Rivio and Wildlife Studios for the cloud playable ads.
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Games available at launch
This week, Facebook is launching the new cloud gaming service with the following games: Asphalt 9: Legends by Gameloft; Mobile Legends: Adventure by Moonton; PGA TOUR Golf Shootout by Concrete Software, Inc.; Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale by Qublix Games; and WWE SuperCard by 2K.
“It’s critical for us to start with latency-tolerant games so we can deliver a good experience for players across a variety of devices. For the purposes of our beta, that includes genres like sports, card, simulation, and strategy games. This is cloud gaming after all, so even with latency-tolerant games players may notice some glitches. We’ll occasionally show player rating cards and feedback forms to help improve the experience over time,” Rubin explained.
Other additions to the Facebook Gaming experience include player names and gaming-themed avatars which players can use instead of their full name and Facebook profile photo. Also, regardless of how players access their games, their in-app purchases and game progress will carry over.
Facebook’s cloud gaming service is in the early stages, and it sounds like they are exploring what players want and what the service could become. They are undoubtedly also looking at how they can leverage this to make money (e.g., in-app purchases, subscription gaming, advertising, users developing deeper ties to the social platform) and how they can compete with the other cloud gaming services. Facebook does not want to be left behind.