Facebook used to be an absolute powerhouse in the game publishing space before mobile games became so dominant. Many now gigantic companies like King got their start on Facebook as did many of the most popular mobile IP (Candy Crush, Clash of Kings, etc.) So it should come as no surprise that Facebook is keen to become a bigger player in the gaming space. This is doubly true considering their multi-billion dollar purchase of Oculus. The approach they have taken is however somewhat shocking.
Earlier this year Facebook launched the beta of their Facebook Arcade, a downloadable client for playing several of their most popular games. It seems that Facebook is intending to morph this service into a more Steam like service. One part of this strategy is a newly announced partnership with Unity that will enable Unity developers to publish directly to Facebook’s new service. From the Unity forum:
Sign up to be a closed-alpha partner! Unity is partnering with Facebook to lower the cost and friction of bringing your games cross-platform, with the power to reach over 650 million people who are already playing Facebook-connected games every month. With over $2.5B paid out by Facebook to game developers last year alone, Facebook will be selecting developers building in Unity 5.4 to join as closed-alpha partners to test a new export functionality within the Unity editor. With this new functionality, Unity developers will be able to easily publish their games onto a brand-new Facebook PC gaming distribution platform to help drive additional growth and monetization.
Sign up here (fb.me/FBUnityAlpha) by August 31, 2016 to help us test and provide feedback on an alpha build of the new functionality we're in building into the Unity editor. Don't miss this opportunity to help shape an exciting new venture that we're investing in and reap the benefits of being an early partner*.
* Once selected, closed-alpha partners will need to agree to the the following minimum requirements:
- Sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
- Use the alpha build and report bugs in order to help make this a better product
- Once you've built your game for the new Facebook PC platform, submit it to Facebook for review
Please share any questions you may have in this forum thread.
Details of this new service are quite scarce. Given the requirement to sign an NDA to sign up, it seems likely it will remain that way. As loathe as I am to link to them (the TMZ of tech “journalism”), TechCrunch currently have the most details available:
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
So basically Facebook appear to be launching their own marketplace to compete with the likes of Steam with both casual games and an eye towards more hardcore games in the future. If you are interested in signing up you have until the end of August.