Facebook launches cloud-based gaming service

Michael Cogley
·3 min read
A look at the racing game Asphalt that will launch on Facebook's cloud service - Facebook/Facebook
A look at the racing game Asphalt that will launch on Facebook's cloud service - Facebook/Facebook

Facebook as launched its own cloud-based games streaming as it looks to wrestle back control of the casual gaming sector from Apple and Google.

The social media giant has become the latest in a line of tech firms banking on the prospects of cloud gaming, allowing gamers to play on different devices over the internet without downloading anything.

Users will be able to play a handful of cloud-streamed games through Facebook on Android and any web browser. The service will not be available for iPhone users at first with the company working on “alternative options” for iOS.

Facebook insisted that it is not spinning off the offering into a separate entity. Instead it will be part of the Gaming tab or available through the users’ news feeds.

Gameloft’s racer Asphalt 9, PGA Tour Golf Shootout, and WWE Supercard, will be part of its original line-up of games.

Facebook will join the likes of Google, which has unveiled its own Stadia streaming platform, and Microsoft, which is working on its xCloud service. However, both the competing services seem to be targeted at more serious gamers.

Jason Rubin, Facebook’s vice president of play, said the tech giant believed in the long-term future of gaming but warned that it had a long way to go before it reached the masses.

“We love console and PC gaming and both formats will be around for a long time,” he said in a blog post.

“We believe cloud gaming will increase — not replace — the options to jump into great games. We’re not trying to replace your phone either. We think you’ll find that there are times when jumping quickly into a cloud game is a better option, and sometimes it’s not.”

Facebook confirmed that the new platform would initially only be available in the US, with no UK release date yet confirmed.

It said it will also be introducing player names, like the ones that have adorned online games for years as well as cross-play, which will allow people to play between the downloaded version of the game and the cloud version. The company is also introducing cloud “playable ads” that will “blur the lines between games and ads”.

Mr Rubin said that he was unsure if launching on Apple’s App Store was a “viable path” and said that its route to iOS was “uncertain”.

“Apple treats games differently and continues to exert control over a very precious resource,” he said.

“Stay tuned as we work out the best way for people to play games when and how they want, regardless of what device they bought.”

Apple has faced intense criticism from developers over its controversial commission charged on new sign-ups to subscriptions services. The iPhone-maker and Epic Games, the company behind battle royale hit Fortnite, have launched counter lawsuits against one another. Apple has been accused of abusing a monopoly position while Epic has been accused of trying to bypass the App Store’s payment system.