Facebook launches cloud games on desktop and Android, but not on iOS

On October 17, 2019, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in Washington DC speaks at ‘Z Conversation on Free Expression’ at Georgetown University.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook on Monday announced the launch of cloud gaming on its desktop website and Android app, but said it is unable to bring games to iOS due to Apple’s “arbitrary” policies.

Facebook’s web and Android users can try a free-to-play game in seconds without leaving the social network. Users download streamed games from Facebook’s data center without having to download the game to their device. The idea is similar to the services offered by Microsoft and Google, but without the console-quality games provided by those services.

The exclusion of Apple devices from Facebook cloud gaming is the latest shot at a shootout in a long-running feud between companies

The battle dates back to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s remarks in March 2018, criticizing social networks’ handling of user privacy after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which resulted in improperly accessing the data of 87 million Facebook users.

Since then, companies have continued to do so, with Facebook recently questioning Apple’s App Store policies that Washington lawmakers and regulators appear to be investigating and holding conflicting hearings involving Big Tech, including the iPhone maker.

Apple’s guidelines, which the company uses to determine which apps it approves or rejects, do not allow applications that operate like third-party app stores. It prohibits apps that distribute software as the app’s “main purpose” and bar code that is “offered in a store or store-like interface.”

Last month, Apple adjusted its guidelines around gaming services, stating that apps can provide subscriptions for multiple games, but each game must be approved by Apple and offered in its own app .

Facebook Gaming App can bring cloud gaming to iOS if it enables the new product on the mobile web version of its service, but the company wants users to visit its app instead, said Jason Rubin, vice president of special gaming initiative Facebook .

Rubin said, “We don’t want people to visit Facebook 20 times a day. We have a great app.” “We have to use Apple’s technology and browser on iOS, and it is not optimized for the benefit of cloud games.”

Facebook Cloud Gaming on iOS will allow iPhone and iPad users to find out what games their friends are playing, see lists that show the top games on Facebook or play games with Facebook-unique features, Rubin said.

“In many ways, consumers are being disrupted,” Rubin said.

Apple told CNBC that software developers allow each game to bring cloud games to iOS in the App Store. Apple stated that developers can also offer cloud gaming through the Safari browser. Apple said that Apple has continued to engage with Facebook to help with how to get its app to follow the iOS App Store guidelines.

As the story went on, Rubin responded to Apple’s claims on Twitter.

Rubin said, “Apple claims to have given us ‘useful feedback’ in this story.” He said, “Responding to many requests for approval of our iOS cloud concepts is better than radio silence with ‘it fails under policy’ which we’ve experienced many times in the past, but it’s hardly ‘helpful. The response is “.”

Facebook’s strategy vs. Google, Amazon and Microsoft

Game consoles are also not on quality or at par with cloud-gaming subscription services such as Google Stadia, Amazon Luna or Microsoft’s xCloud. They are versions of mobile games that you can already download to a phone or tablet. They include a 3D racer game “Asphalt 9: Legends”, and a PGA Tour golf shootout such as “PGA Tour”. Users will be able to play free games using their touchscreen or mouse and keyboard.

“We think it will expand very quickly because we’re not charging up front and you don’t have to be a controller,” Rubin said.

Facebook’s launch of cloud gaming happens at least a year after spending $ 78 million reported to acquire Spanish cloud-gaming start-up Plagiga. An estimated 380 million monthly users already play simple HTML5 games on Facebook, but these cloud games will affect the quality of the social network’s gaming catalog.

Cloud games should benefit Facebook twice. Better games can drive more users to spend more time on Facebook, increasing the company’s average revenue per user – a key metric in the company’s quarterly earnings results.

Additionally, developers who add their games to Facebook will be able to advertise playable demos of those games. It allows developers to promote their games to a huge audience, allows users to play full games within advertisements and creates another advertising product for Facebook, advertising on more than 98% of its revenue depends on.

“With this new format, we can now support interactive demos from the game’s original code, blurring the line between games and advertisements,” the company said in a blog post.

Facebook will also earn some money from in-game purchases. When Facebook users make micro-purchases through cloud games, 30% of revenue will go to Facebook and 70% to game developers. For purchases made on Android, Facebook will not make the cut and instead 30% will go to Google.

“We are ready to give 30% to Apple,” said Rubin. “What is holding us up does not allow us to do the things we are doing on Android.”

Facebook Cloud Gaming will begin this week for users in California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington DC – all in one area of ​​Facebook data The center located nearby, Rubin said. The company hopes to expand availability in the coming months.

–CNBC Kief Lessing Contributed to this report.


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