After reports started surfacing last week that Facebook is launching a dedicated gaming app, the firm has almost made good on that promise. Today, Facebook has launched a cohort of 'cloud-streamed' games that are playable via the Facebook app on Android or the desktop on a modern browser. Like traditional cloud-based gaming services, these games will be available to play right out of the box, without the need to download and install them separately. But while the venture seems like a take on a cloud-based gaming service, Facebook insists that it is not a spin-off or its own take of the same:
But first, I want to clarify what we’re not doing: 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 controllers since we’re launching with native mobile games.
The service will be launching in beta today on Android and Web here. This first array of games includes renowned titles like Asphalt 9: Legends, Mobile Legends: Adventure by Moonton, PGA TOUR Golf Shootout, Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale, and WWE SuperCard. Facebook has promised that Dirt Bike Unchained will be added sometime in the future, along with other titles. Cross-play between games with integrated Facebook Login and the downloaded version of the same game will also be enabled.
For the first time, you will also be able to customize your own avatars and player names that will show up when you're playing these games. This means that instead of your profile picture and full name appearing representing you, the custom avatar and player name will. Facebook is also launching Cloud Playable Ads on Android and iOS in the United States, which will now support interactive demos from a game’s native code. Some changes to the Gaming tab have also been introduced to improve user interaction and engagement.
These new cloud-streamed games will run in tandem with the usual HTML5 games that over 380 million people play each month on the website currently. And it is supposed to be a seamless switch between the two formats. However, there's one caveat for now; these apps can run on Android mobile devices but Apple devices rocking iOS and iPadOS aren't supported due to certain problems with App Store guidelines.
This will leave support for iPhones and iPads an inclusion for the future, if at all. Apropos this, the Vice President of Facebook Play, Jason Rubin remarked, “We’re not on iOS right now, which is a big problem for us. We are barred from having Facebook launch the browser and play the game.” He further added that "Apple treats games differently and continues to exert control over a very precious resource."