Cloud Gaming, Meet Facebook Gaming
October 26, 2020 by Jason Rubin, VP of Play, Facebook
Today we’re announcing that Facebook Gaming has launched several cloud-streamed games in the Facebook app and on browser — playable instantly, with no downloads required. We recently had 200,000 people playing our cloud-streamed games per week in limited regions, so while it’s not exactly a secret, I’m excited to lay out what we’re building.
Cloud game streaming promises to deliver unprecedented access to games across every screen. And while we’re thrilled to play a part in that future, that future is a ways off. So before we talk about our aspirations, let me start with what we’re not doing. Cloud gaming announcements are prone to hype, so I’m going to speak openly from the outset.
1. We’re not going to overpromise and under-deliver
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 oversell where it’ll be in the future.
2. We’re not trying to replace your favorite gaming hardware
We love console and PC gaming and both formats will be around for a long time. 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.
3. We’re going to start with what we do best, and expand from there
Cloud gaming is about expanding the types of games we already offer, so we’ll start with the format people enjoy playing on Facebook: free-to-play games. That’s one of the reasons why we’re starting with games typically played on mobile devices. In the future, our systems and infrastructure will improve to deliver more types of games — possibly all types of games. Until then, rest assured that the cost of trying our cloud games is $0.
4. We’re not spinning off a separate cloud gaming service
All cloud-streamed games are playable in the same way you play games now on Facebook — whether it’s in our Gaming tab or from News Feed. No special hardware or controllers needed; your hands are the controller since we’re launching with native mobile games. And you can play these games with a mouse and keyboard on desktop. More than 380 millionpeople play games each month on Facebook, and people will play cloud-streamed games right alongside those playing instant games in HTML5. And if we do our jobs right, you won’t notice how the games are delivered.
5. We’re not launching on iOS…for now
Unfortunately, we’re not launching cloud games on iOS, so only Android and web players will enjoy integrated cloud games on Facebook while we work on alternative options for iOS. Even with Apple’s new cloud games policy, we don’t know if launching on the App Store is a viable path. “Of course, there is always the open Internet,” so mobile browsers may wind up being an option, but there are limitations to what we can offer on Safari. While our iOS path is uncertain, one thing is clear. Apple treats games differently and continues to exert control over a very precious resource. 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.
Cloud-streamed games are launching on Facebook in two complementary formats:
Full, free-to-play mobile games in a relaunched destination for Play.
Cloud playable ads so people can instantly try out a game on Facebook.
Free-to-Play Cloud Games Launching in Beta on Android and Web at fb.gg/play
Today, we’re excited to launch the beta for cloud-streamed games on Facebook Gaming. We’re starting with a range of mobile-native games in Android APK formats.
Our first set of games available this week include Asphalt 9: Legends by Gameloft; Mobile Legends: Adventure by Moonton; PGA TOUR Golf Shootout by Concrete Software, Inc.; Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale by Qublix Games; and WWE SuperCard by 2K. In the coming weeks we’ll add Dirt Bike Unchained by Red Bull, and we’ll continue to test new experiences and expand the games library in number, type, and genre.
It’s critical for us to start with latency-tolerant games so we can deliver a good experience for players across a variety of devices. For the purposes of our beta, that includes genres like sports, card, simulation, and strategy games. This is cloud gaming after all, so even with latency-tolerant games players may notice some glitches. We’ll occasionally show player rating cards and feedback forms to help improve the experience over time.
As our beta progresses and cloud technology scales, we’ll increase the variety of game genres. That expansion will start in 2021 with the addition of action and adventure games. Games will launch with in-app purchases and ads enabled, depending on game format and developer choice.
Access to cloud games on Facebook will roll out in the US, initially available across California, Texas and Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states including, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and West Virginia. We’ll expand regional access in the coming months as we scale the infrastructure needed to roll out cloud gaming across the US.
Player Names and Cross-Play
For the first time on Facebook, we’re introducing Player Names and gaming-themed Avatars for players to represent themselves in game instead of using their full name and profile picture. Player Names aren’t a replacement for real names across Facebook and are used in the context of playing games. Player Names and gaming activity will also appear alongside a player’s real name when they choose to connect with friends or fellow players from a game.
And, regardless of where players start or choose to play, their game progression and in-game purchases should follow. All developers integrating Facebook Login for Gaming, which is part of our new Gaming Services announced in September, can enable cross-play between the downloaded version of their game and the cloud version on Facebook.
Cloud Playable Ads Launching on Android and iOS in the US
Demos are some of the most effective gaming ads out there. Building on our HTML5 playable ads format, we’re launching cloud playable ads. With this new format, we can now support interactive demos from a game’s native code, blurring the line between games and ads.
For developers, creation of cloud playable ads takes less time and is less expensive, and allows for more options. Multiple pieces of creative can run from a single APK. Developers can customize the experience by swapping out different levels, characters, and more. Players get a better sense of games before they commit precious money, download time, or storage space.
Our beta partners for cloud playable ads include: 2K, FunPlus, Gameloft, Glu Mobile, Gram Games, Rovio, and Wildlife Studios.
Developers can learn more about cloud playable ads here.
A Redesigned Destination for Play on Facebook
We’re releasing an improved and dedicated Facebook Gaming Play destination with developer success as a key priority. Our newly designed Gaming tab includes updated discovery and re-engagement features to help players find new games, get back into the ones they’ve played, and recommend new games to try.
Game retention will improve as we add features like favoriting, new discovery units, and updated notifications. We completely refreshed our HTML5 instant games platform with automated performance standards and an enhanced review process to increase platform integrity and improve the experience for both developers and our player community. We also added new editorial featuring units to help players discover new games, and we’re continuing to optimize in-game ads on our platform to help increase CPMs.
As crazy as it sounds, the values of Facebook’s social games from 2010 are nearly identical to the promise of cloud games in 2020: instant access to games on any browser and playable with your friends wherever they are. We’ve always wanted to make games more accessible and give people a place to enjoy a shared love of gaming. Thanks to cloud gaming on Facebook Gaming, we can continue to help people play together, wherever and whenever they want.
Players of instant games and web games on Facebook as of August 2020
VP of Play, Facebook