Facebook has launched a new free-to-play gaming service, which can be played on PCs and Android apps (but not Apple devices).
Facebook Gaming is the latest entrant into the cloud gaming trend, following Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Microsoft’s xCloud, Google’s Stadia, and Amazon’s Luna.
Five free-to-play mobile games have already been launched, albeit only in the US, and can be played on either Android devices or on PC via the Facebook gaming app
The games are Asphalt 9: Legends, Mobile Legends: Adventure, PGA TOUR Golf Shootout, Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale, and WWE SuperCard.
Facebook has long offered games via its platforms, most notably Farmville, Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans.
But until now, these have all been based on Flash or HMTL5 technologies, run locally on a user’s device.
By contrast, the cloud-based service runs the games on Facebook’s computer servers and then streams the graphics to players, who control the action from afar.
By doing so, the company says, it can offer more advanced gameplay.
In time, the company plans to add more demanding PC titles, but this soft launch could help it avoid some of the criticisms rivals have faced.
By focusing on games designed for handsets rather than consoles or PCs, Facebook also noted users would not need to buy add-on controllers or other special hardware at this point.
According to Facebook VP of Play Jason Rubin, more than 380 million people play games on the social platform every month, and the company sees a great opportunity to leverage that existing user base. And by taking baby steps with its cloud gaming ambitions, the company should be able to avoid the pitfalls encountered by the likes of Stadia, a service that overpromised and may have underdelivered for both its users and the developers that have jumped on board.
In a statement, Rubin took a subtle dig at other cloud gaming platforms — “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. Cloud game streaming for the masses still has a way to go, and it’s important to embrace both the advantages and the reality of the technology rather than try to sell you on a promise of where it’ll be in the future.”