Facebook Is Rolling Out A Free Cloud Gaming Service

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Facebook is the latest Silicon Valley juggernaut to jump into video game streaming. Not the kind you watch — the company already has a Twitch and YouTube Gaming competitor — but the sort you can play over an internet connection. Facebook isn’t targeting Stadia (Google), xCloud (Microsoft), Luna (Amazon) or GeForce Now (NVIDIA). Not at first, anyway. Instead of console and PC titles, the company is offering smaller free-to-play games. These include Asphalt 9: Legends, PGA TOUR Golf Shootout, Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale and Mobile Legends: Adventure, an ‘idle’ RPG that progresses even when you’re not actively playing. More games will be added over time, starting with Red Bull’s Dirt Bike Unchained “in the coming weeks.”

You’ll find these titles in the Gaming section of Facebook. (That’s the one that also contains its Twitch rival.) The company has emphasized that it’s not launching a standalone service and, because it’s part of the standard Facebook service, will be completely free to access. Unless you want to spend money inside the individual games, of course.

Game streaming will eventually come to the Facebook Gaming app on Android, too.
 Facebook

In addition, Facebook will be introducing “cloud playable ads” in the News Feed. These tiny demos will target people who rarely open the Gaming tab, or have forgotten that Facebook also offers playable games. Facebook says the ads will draw from a game’s native code and therefore be simple for developers to tweak.

Cloud gaming will be limited to two platforms: Android and the web. Apple originally barred game streaming services on iOS, much to the industry’s annoyance. The company changed its App Store Review Guidelines last month, however, allowing streamable games — provided every title is submitted separately for review — and “catalog” apps that help players find them. For now, Facebook’s approach doesn’t seem to be compatible with these guidelines. “Even with Apple’s new cloud games policy, we don’t know if launching on the App Store is a viable path,” Jason Rubin, VP of Play at Facebook explained in a blog post. The company might use the browser as a workaround, but there’s no word on when or how that might happen.

The service will eventually come to the dedicated Facebook Gaming app on Android. While the company is focused on mobile hardware and the web, it hasn’t ruled out supporting TVs someday. “I would love to be on TVs at some point,” Rubin told Engadget. “I think that would-be a great way to play these games. But there’s a big controller issue for us because we’re not giving you a subscription and sending you a controller as a loss-leader to earn back over time. Keyboard and touch input works for us, but the controller input for some of these [other] devices is something we have to overcome. We have some ideas, but it’ll take us some time to get there.”

Cloud-playable ads:Facebook

Facebook’s moving into video game streaming isn’t a huge surprise. The company acquired PlayGiga, a startup that ran a cloud gaming service in Europe and select parts of the Middle East, last December. Facebook has also confirmed that it’s working with Microsoft on xCloud integration. The service announced today is based on the PlayGiga acquisition, however, and currently has nothing to do with Xbox.

Facebook’s version of cloud gaming doesn’t require an interface quite like xCloud or Stadia. Still, the company has been forced to build some of the basics. Users can have a Player Name, for instance, that is separate from their real name. They can also choose an avatar that will replace their profile picture in select games. Facebook is also offering a degree of cross-play support. If a developer uses Facebook Login, it’s possible for players to take their in-game progression and purchases between different versions. That’s critical given the types of games that Facebook is courting for its cloud gaming service. If you’ve already dumped 100 hours into Asphalt 9, or spent a bunch to get ahead, you probably don’t want to start over with a fresh save file.

Source: Engadget

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