Facebook Gaming on Monday unveiled a new cloud streaming gaming service, although it’s a bit different than what you might expect. Instead of providing access to PC or console games like Stadia, GeForce NOW, and Xbox Game Streaming, Facebook’s new service features access to free-to-play mobile games.
“Cloud gaming is about expanding the types of games we already offer, so we’ll start with the format people enjoy playing on Facebook: free-to-play games,” said Jason Rubin, VP of Play, Facebook. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re starting with games typically played on mobile devices.” Facebook said more than 380 million people play games each month on the social platform, so the company thinks there’s a big opportunity here. For now, the social giant’s service isn’t meant to replace your favorite gaming hardware, but that doesn’t mean the company won’t eventually compete in the same market as Microsoft, NVIDIA, Google, and Amazon.
“We believe in the long-term future of cloud gaming, but we aren’t going to try to wow you with the wonders of our data centers, compression algorithms, resolutions, or frames per second,” Rubin said. Rubin goes on to say that he doesn’t want to oversell the future of cloud gaming, seemingly implying platforms like Stadia or Amazon’s recently-announced Luna have done just that.
If you’re wondering just what Facebook’s end-goal is with this service, it’s probably to do with the potential to sell advertisements. The company outlines how game developers can deploy “cloud playable ads so people can instantly try out a game on Facebook.” These “interactive demos,” Facebook says, blur the line between games and ads, are less expensive and time-consuming to make, and allow for “multiple pieces of creative [to] run from a single APK.”
Facebook’s cloud gaming service will first launch in the U.S., with availability in California, Texas, and Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and more. Wider availability is expected in the coming months. As for the type of games you can access, Facebook said the first set of games in the new service include Asphalt 9: Legends, Mobile Legends: Adventure, PGA Tour Gold Shootout, Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale, WWE SuperCard, and Dirt Bike Unchained. As the service ramps up, its library will expand with the addition of action and adventure games. These cloud-streamed games will co-exist alongside Facebook’s existing catalog of instant games that are built in HTML5.
For now, Facebook’s new cloud gaming service is only available on Android and on the web, which means iOS users again miss out. “Even with Apple’s new cloud games policy, we don’t know if launching on the App Store is a viable path,” Rubin said. Facebook clearly isn’t happy with being unable to launch the service on iOS, but it’s possible the company could mimic what Amazon has done with Luna. Luna is available on iOS as a progressive web app (PWA), an avenue that Microsoft is reportedly pursuing, but the future of this method is uncertain given Apple’s conservative stance on cloud gaming services and web app standards.