Facebook announced its own version of Steam today called Gameroom. The social network had announced this August that it would be partnering with the Unity developer toolset to deliver a PC gaming platform . Gameroom is basically a hub for all native games on Facebook and even those that are playable on the web. It is available for PCs now and allows you to have a separate gaming experience on the web. Hopefully, now you won’t see Candy Crush requests on your notifications bar or your Newsfeed.
Login to the app with your Facebook details and you’ll be greeted with a screen filled with Editor’s Choice and titles organized by type. Category pages will let you view games in a certain genre while games you’ve already played and played most recently will appear in a bar on the left. These games are light weights of course. Facebook has said that it will keep games to a maximum size of 200 MB for starters, though games up to 500 MB can be considered on a case-by-case basis. Huge games like Diablo and Call of Duty are of course, out of the question…for now.
Gameroom isn’t perfect by any means. Engadget’s testing reveals that some games don’t work and those that do require a separate browser window to open in. There is also no offline gaming since the app requires a continuous connection to Facebook. There are reasons for that even though games are downloaded locally to your computer. One reason is privacy; every app, like on Facebook, asks for your information. Without that option, it can’t work. Also, before you surrender your personal information to each game, you have a chance to pick and choose which ones you can send over. Choose wisely.
Facebook’s move comes at a time when gaming is undergoing a revolution. The introduction of VR has opened up a lot of possibilities. And while it’s too early to see whether the trend is going to be a success or a failure, one this is sure: everyone is going for it. Microsoft has the HoloLens and Project Scorpio with Xbox, Sony has the PS VR for thee PS4 and Google has the Daydream headset. Only Apple seems to be holding back but maybe just until next year.
Facebook used to be a vibrant hub of gaming activity with titles like Farmville (and my personal favourite, Sword & Sandals: Gladiator), but mobile gaming exploded and no one wanted to play games on Facebook anymore. Millions of people migrated from the old web platform to apps. Now Facebook is trying to bring that fervour back. It still houses a community of 650 million gamers. Now, just like how YouTube created a separate app for Video game videos, Facebook is trying to monetize the traffic of gamers. But they’ll have to do better than Candy Crush and Farmville, that’s for sure.