Game streaming is the hot ticket in the industry right now, and Facebook wants a piece of it. A very, very small piece, with an explicit stated objective that it’s not competing with established platforms like PC or consoles. Or streaming services like Stadia or Xbox Game Pass. Or…actually, what the hell is Facebook doing?
The new “Instant” area of the Facebook Gaming portal has streaming games—hundreds and hundreds of them, in fact! But they’re all mobile games, the kind you can’t help but find whenever you search for an app (game or not) on the App Store or Play Store. Gameloft racing game Asphalt 9 is the headliner—Facebook features it in the blog announcement—but aside from a few Zynga titles, the rest appears to be low-grade shovelware. I even found a game claiming to be “Among Us” which turned out to be a fake listing: inside was a generic single-player puzzle game.
The Instant Games are available in a desktop browser window or on the Facebook Gaming app on Android, but apparently Facebook is hitting the same wall on iOS as everyone else, and the streaming games are not available on that platform. Facebook was very explicit about this on Twitter.
Again, Facebook seems to be going out of its way to make it clear that this is not an exciting new game streaming service, it’s just a different avenue for people to play simple games. Facebook also highlighted the way games can be launched instantly from an advertisement, which is surely a boon to anyone hoping to become the next mobile sensation. But Facebook will need to exercise a little curation if it wants this service to get players beyond beta, and as it stands, I can’t see much of a reason to play on my PC instead of my phone.
The current service is only available in the United States, and even there, some players may not be able to access it: Facebook says it’s initially available in “California, Texas and Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states including, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and West Virginia.”