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Facebook partners with Unity to create a desktop gaming platform like Steam

By Koh Wanzi - on 19 Aug 2016, 10:29am

Facebook partners with Unity to create a desktop gaming platform like Steam

Facebook first announced its plans for a desktop gaming platform with the Facebook Games Arcade in May.

Facebook has announced a partnership with game engine company Unity to build a desktop gaming platform in the style of Steam. This would allow publishers to bring iOS and Android games to the desktop while offering more “hardcore” games in the PC app, and also expand the scope of gaming on Facebook’s website.

Game developers have until 31 August to apply for instant access to a limited alpha version of Unity 5.4 that will let them create and export games to Facebook’s website and desktop platform.

This streamlines the process of bringing games to Facebook’s web-based platform. Before this, developers had to work with a more convoluted Facebook SDK in order to port their games to Facebook.

The partnership is part of Facebook’s efforts to reassert its presence in the casual gaming market, which has since shifted predominantly to mobile. At its peak, Facebook earned US$257 million in payment taxes in Q4 2014, but that fell to US$197 million last quarter as gamers left for mobile games and app stores.

With that said, Facebook still has a sizeable base of gamers, with 650 million users playing games each month. Add on to that Unity’s deep and wide penetration in game development, and Facebook could potentially reach quite a wide audience, especially if it succeeds in making it simple to port games over.

The future Facebook desktop platform could host more immersive and demanding games like those found on Steam.

This actually isn’t the first we’re hearing about Facebook’s efforts to make a downloadable desktop client. Last May, it announced a Windows app called the Facebook Games Arcade, but has since ditched the name in favor of simply referring to it as the new “Facebook PC gaming platform”.

According to TechCrunch, the desktop platform would not be cluttered with traditional Facebook features like the News Feed, and would support casual Facebook games, mobile iOS and Android titles that have been ported over, and probably even more graphically intensive games of the likes usually seen on Steam. Facebook also has plans to offer it on different types of PCs, and not just Windows.

Ultimately, this push into gaming is just part of Facebook’s larger, overarching strategy to own a piece of every aspect of consumer behavior online. Gaming has become quite a social activity, which makes it a key piece of Facebook’s mission to connect everything and everyone.

Source: Facebook via TechCrunch