Facebook has often skirted around the gaming market without ever feeling like it was truly putting its weight into the sector. That may be changing as Facebook Gaming is launching a free cloud gaming service that will be available for all users (with one important caveat) following a successful preview.
Currently, the service is limited to “several cloud-streamed games,” according to Facebook VP Jason Rubin. In the blog post, Rubin adds, “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.”
It's interesting that Facebook Gaming is seemingly getting into cloud gaming but also dismissing it at the same time. Certainly, it does little to promote the new cloud service with any kind of confidence. Besides, there is at least some evidence that Rubin's opinion is just incorrect.
Certainly, Microsoft with Project xCloud rolling out now would not say cloud gaming is “a ways off.” Similarly Google Stadia, which is now available and providing mobile cloud game streaming despite teething problems.
Rubin and Facebook disagree and are undercutting the value of their service from inception.
“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,” he writes. “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.”
I really don't get Facebook's strategy here. It seems like the company has a half-baked idea and does not want to oversell it. Why wouldn't the company try to wow customers? It makes no sense.
Perhaps some of Facebook's hesitation comes from the fact the new service is not available on Apple iOS devices. Yes, Apple's controversial App Store practices mean Facebook Gaming cloud streaming cannot come to iPhone and iPad.
Not on iOS
“Only Android and web players will enjoy integrated cloud games on Facebook while we work on alternative options for iOS,” Rubin adds. “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.”