Yesterday Facebook officially announced that it’s working with game engine Unity, in order to build a dedicated, downloadable desktop gaming platform. We don’t know for sure whether Facebook is trying to compete with Steam, win back the revenue it lost when gaming shifted to mobile or trying to broaden the Facebook.com experience for gamers.
This will help facebook, to give publishers a chance to offer their iOS and Android games on desktop in addition to the casual games Facebook is already offering, while the desktop PC app might support more hardcore games. Starting yesterday, Facebook is allowing game developers can apply until 31st August for a limited access to a limited alpha version of Unity 5.4 that will allow them to build as well as, export games to it’s website and desktop app. “Integrating tools that provide effortless access to Facebook’s network is a key part of helping developers find the success they deserve” says Unity’s VP of biz dev Elliot Solomon. Previously, Unity developers had to work with a more code-intensive Facebook SDK to bring games to its web platform. Facebook already partnered with Unity to support Oculus VR game development.
Facebook once was the hub for social gaming, earning a peak of $257 million in payment taxes in Q4 2014. Which slipped to $197 million last quarter as users moved to mobile app stores. But this doesn’t stop 650 million users who play games each month on Facebook. Facebook has paid out over $8 billion to game developers since 2010 and $2.5 billion in 2015 alone. The new and revamped Facebook gaming platforms could restrengthen the social network’s control over a huge part of how people use the internet.
Facebook first announced its foray into a downloadable desktop platform in May. It was calling the test the “Facebook Games Arcade” though the company has ditched that name and now just refers to it as the “new Facebook PC gaming platform”.
Facebook was apprehensive to reveal details about the specs and plans for the PC platform, but here’s what we know from talking with Facebook and Unity:
1. It will run on different types of PCs, not just Windows like the Games Arcade test.
2. The desktop platform provides a distraction-free gaming environment uncluttered by other Facebook features like the News Feed.
3. It will support the traditional casual Facebook games, mobile games ported from iOS and Android, and Unity says it will likely support more “immersive” hardcore games like you typically see on Steam or consoles, as there’s no plans for a limit on genres or specs right now.
4. It will offer discoverability so gamers can find titles to play.
5. Facebook will provide a revenue split for game publishers, though it’s unclear if it will deviate from the industry standard 30% it’s used in the past.
Facebook is on a quest to eat the internet. Feeds, messaging, video, live streaming, news, commerce, payments — Facebook wants a piece of everything you do online. It can’t make the world more open and connected if it isn’t connected to every way you…connect. As gaming grows as a behavior, Facebook can’t sit back and let Apple Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo own it. The Oculus acquisition was a big step back into gaming through VR. Still, most of us spend our days not in a headset but in front of a glowing rectangle. Facebook won at online gaming years ago. The company proved it’s not afraid to be the underdog, challenging YouTube for video. Now it’s time to hit “Continue” on Facebook Gaming. This is it for now, stay tuned for further updates.