Facebook is building its own Steam-style desktop gaming platform with Unity

August 19, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology, Video

Facebook may try to compete with Steam, or at least win back revenue lost when casual gaming shifted to mobile. Today Facebook formally announced it’s working with game engine Unity to build a dedicated, downloadable desktop gaming platform, plus it’s broadening the Facebook.com experience for gamers. Both will allow publishers to offer their iOS and Android games on desktop in addition to the casual games Facebook is known for, while the desktop PC app could support more hardcore games. Starting today, game developers can apply until August 31st for instant access to a limited alpha of a version of Unity 5.4 that will allow them to build and export games to Facebook’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 was once the home for social gaming, earning a peak of $257 million in payment taxes in Q4 2014. That’s slipped to $197 million last quarter as gamers moved to mobile app stores. But Facebook still has 650 million users who play games each month. It’s paid out over $8 billion to game developers since 2010, and $2.5 billion in 2015 alone. 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:
  • It will run on different types of PCs, not just Windows like the Games Arcade test
  • The desktop platform provides a distraction-free gaming environment uncluttered by other Facebook features like the News Feed
  • 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
  • It will offer discoverability so gamers can find titles to play
  • 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
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.
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