Facebook enters the cloud gaming space


Gaming has evolved over the years to become an extremely popular and lucrative pursuit today. This has been aided by the development of technology, as well as the increase in internet speeds, allowing people to play high-quality games online against each other, no matter where they are in the world. At the same time, improvements in processor and graphics technology has meant that today’s games, whether they are being played on the phone, PC or dedicated gaming consoles, look stunning, with visuals of the kind which could not have been imagined even a decade ago. However, playing these games does need a lot of computing power, with every new high-spec game aiming to push the envelope in terms of its graphics. Such high-end computers are not cheap, and so this has begun to restrict gaming to those who can afford such laptops and consoles. This has led to the rise of cloud gaming, where players can play these games on the internet, with the processing power needed being handled by the ‘cloud’. Various companies have jumped on this bandwagon, and Facebook is only the latest to arrive on the cloud gaming scene.

Facebook Gaming is the latest entrant in this space, with the likes of Google Stadia, Amazon Luna, Microsoft xCloud and Nvidia GeForce Now already available. Right at the start though, its reach will be restricted, since it will not be available on Apple iOS devices, due to a running dispute about how Apple runs its App Store. Nevertheless, Facebook Gaming aims to become one of the mainstays of cloud gaming, and its approach is a little different from the other entrants. It is not focusing on providing high-end features such as 4K graphics, 60 fps and so on. Rather, the aim is to first build a platform for free-to-play games, and provide a latency-free experience, for starters. This will be music to the ears of many gaming studios and providers, while other related sectors will also be taking note. Gaming has grown even more in popularity during 2020, as people stuck indoors due to lockdowns have looked for things to do. At the same time, they are also searching for alternatives for the entertainment options they had outside their homes, with casinos being a prime example. Many casino providers have created online casino games to provide a similar experience to customers from the comfort of their homes, and this could be the next step in the evolution of cloud gaming as well.

Facebook Gaming is only available on Android devices and the open web for now, as well as only for US users at the moment, but the company has stated that it is working to be able to release on PCs soon and update to include more regions as well. There are six games which can be played on the service for now, with Asphalt 9: Legends, Mobile Legends: Adventure and WWE SuperCard being among them. Users will be able to login to games using their Facebook profiles, with progress linked to it, while that can also be carried over to the standalone game if users decide to play it outside of Facebook Gaming.

Given that more than 380 million people play games on Facebook every month, this is a huge opportunity for the company to gather market share. It is also being smart in terms of its offerings, choosing not to promise too much and then fall short, like how Google Stadia has done. The aim is to provide services which can be delivered at this time, rather than in the future. Game developers can choose to monetize their games through ads and in-app purchases, while there are no plans to have exclusive games at present.