Facebook enters cloud gaming market

Users can play games in the Facebook mobile app and on the browser directly, without downloading the software

FILE PHOTO: The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Illustration/File Photo

Social networking company Facebook is entering the burgeoning cloud gaming market currently dominated by the likes of Microsoft, Google, Nvidia and Intel.

Users can play games directly in the Facebook mobile app and on its browser, without downloading any new software as they would on app stores such as Android’s Google Play and Apple’s App Store, the company said.

“We have launched several cloud-streamed games in the Facebook app and on browser … playable instantly, with no downloads required,” Jason Rubin, vice president of play at Facebook, said.

“We recently had 200,000 people playing our cloud-streamed games per week in limited regions. Cloud game streaming promises to deliver unprecedented access to games across every screen … we are thrilled to play a part in that future,” he added.

Cloud games are run on remote servers and streamed directly to a user’s device.

Facebook is not spinning off a separate cloud gaming service and will make all cloud-streamed games playable in the same way that users currently play games on its portal, either in its gaming tab or from its news feed, the California-based company said in a blog.

The cloud gaming market is booming and is predicted to generate $585 million in revenue by the end of this year, up from $170m last year, according to a report last month by market research company Newzoo. Revenue will reach $4.8 billion by 2023, the report said.

Users will not need any external gear, hardware or controllers to play cloud-streamed games on Facebook.

“Your hands are the controllers since we are launching with native mobile games ... and you can play these games with a mouse and keyboard on desktop,” said Mr Rubin, adding that more than 380 million people currently play games each month on Facebook.

Consumer appetite for cloud gaming rose rapidly in 2020 with the creation of new platforms such as Apple's Arcade and Google's Stadia. Movement restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic also propelled users’ interest, industry experts said.

“Much like every other aspect of our lives, Covid-19 had and is still having a profound impact on cloud gaming … there has been a reignited passion for gaming during these trying times,” Guilherme Fernandes, market consultant at Amsterdam-based Newzoo, said.

Cloud gaming allows for high-fidelity game experiences without expensive hardware, he added.

Publishers and developers working with Facebook on cloud gaming include 2K, FunPlus, Gameloft, Glu Mobile, Gram Games, Rovio, and Wildlife Studios.

Initially, this service is being offered in different parts of the US but the social media giant is planning on a wider roll out to other countries next year.

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