Gaming has been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years to now become a mainstream activity, with the industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and professional tournaments and players now being the norm rather than the exception. Casual gamers have also been growing, especially in the last few months as people have been looking for ways to keep themselves entertained while being at home. One of the most eagerly-awaited developments in the gaming space has been the evolution of cloud-based gaming. Essentially, this will allow gamers to be able to play high-spec games at full quality, as long as they have high-speed internet, without needing to have the top-notch gaming components such as GPUs and tons of RAM, since all of the computing will be done on the cloud. With Microsoft, Google, Nvidia and Amazon being just a few of the tech giants which have made forays into the space, Facebook is now the latest entrant, launching Facebook Gaming for users.
Facebook Gaming is quite different from the other companies offering cloud gaming. While the likes of Google Stadia, Microsoft xCloud and Nvidia GeForce Now are all promising 60 fps, HDR gaming and 4K resolution, among others, Facebook Gaming is concentrating on the free-to-play market. The aim is to provide simple but enjoyable games, with latency-free being the aim. This development is exciting for game developers, as they can now push the boundaries with regard to their game specs, content in the knowledge that cloud gaming will allow many more users to play their games. It is also interesting for related services, such as casino operators, who can see potential for further development in this space. Most casino operators already offer online casino table games and other online ways of playing casino slots and other games, so cloud gaming is another way for them to provide these services to customers from the comfort of their homes.
At present, Facebook Gaming is limited to users in the US, with games such as Asphalt 9: Legends and WWE SuperCard on the lineup. More regions and games are being lined up for the near future by Facebook, with the service only available on mobiles at present. Progression in the games will be linked to the user’s Facebook account, and can carry over to the standalone game if people choose to play the game outside of the social network.
Facebook is looking to bring this service to PCs soon as well. According to Facebook VP of Play, Jason Rubin, over 380 million people play games on Facebook every month, which gives game developers and studios a huge audience to promote their games to. He also stated that Facebook Gaming is aiming at providing a realistic cloud gaming experience at present, rather than promising features which are still some time away and represent the future, rather than the present, of cloud gaming. Game developers will have multiple options to monetize their games – through ads, in-game purchases or a combination of both. 30% of the transaction will go to Facebook, if made on the desktop site, while the same percentage will go to Google if done on the Android app instead. Facebook Mobile is yet to come to iOS, due to longstanding complaints about the restrictions placed on the App Store by Apple, and while Rubin has said that they would be willing to pass on the 30% share to Apple if it were hosted on iOS, that is not what is holding up its deployment to the operating system.
One of the biggest advantages of Facebook Gaming for users is that unlike Stadia, for example, they will not need to buy games individually, at least at present. The business model is the same as it is for Facebook, which is to drive and maximize advertising revenue. The service will also not have any exclusive games, and any ‘made for Facebook games’ will not arrive until the service has enough users.