Facebook Gaming Enters the Cloud Gaming Stratosphere

5 games debuted in beta Monday in some US regions

Asphalt 9: Legends by Gameloft is one of the titles Facebook Gaming debuted on the cloud Facebook Gaming

Facebook Gaming has its head in the cloud.

Starting Monday, several cloud-streamed games will be available via Facebook’s flagship application and browsers, playable instantly, with no downloads required.

The social network said cloud games will begin rolling out in the U.S., initially in California, Texas and Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states including: Connecticut; Delaware; Maryland; Massachusetts; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Washington, D.C.; and West Virginia.

Facebook vice president of play Jason Rubin said in a blog post that regional access will be expanded in the coming months as Facebook scales the necessary infrastructure across the U.S.
Rubin added that Facebook Gaming will expand its cloud games into further genres, starting with action and adventure games in 2021.

Cloud games from Facebook Gaming will have in-app purchases and ads enabled upon release, depending on game format and developer choice.

Rubin also addressed Facebook’s ongoing issues with Apple, saying that cloud games will not be rolled out on iOS for now, and they will only be available via Android and desktop web players.

Rubin wrote, “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.”

One option that will come to iOS, as well as Android, is cloud playable ads, which enable support for interactive demos within the native code of games, “blurring the line between games and ads.”

Rubin said the creation of cloud playable ads takes less time and money and enables more options, with the ability to run multiple pieces of creative from a single Android package kit and to customize experiences by swapping out levels, characters and other elements.

Facebook’s beta partners for cloud playable ads include 2K Games, FunPlus, Gameloft, Glu Mobile, Gram Games, Rovio and Wildlife Studios.

Facebook Gaming

Facebook Gaming

The Facebook Gaming tab was also revamped to include more discovery and re-engagement features enabling players to find new games, revisit ones they have already played and recommend titles to their friends.

Facebook Gaming

Favoriting, new discovery units and updated notifications were added, and automated performance standards and an enhanced review profess were implemented to increase platform integrity and improve the experience for developers and players.

Rubin wrote, “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 (cost per thousand impressions).”

He pointed out that testing has been ongoing, with roughly 200,000 people playing Facebook’s cloud-streamed games per week in limited regions, adding that 380 million people play Instant Games and legacy web games on the social network each month.

Rubin stressed that the addition of cloud gaming is about expanding the existing Facebook Gaming platform, and the company is not spinning off a separate cloud gaming service, writing, “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 million people 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.”

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.