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Facebook Introduces Free Cloud Gaming For Android OS

Facebook is rolling out new cloud-based games in beta for Android and Windows operating systems that are free to play and don’t require downloads, the social media giant announced on Monday (Oct. 26).

The service was tested with 200,000 people playing Facebook’s cloud-streamed games weekly in select geographic locations. Games are now available for all Facebook users. Unlike competitors’ fee-based standalone cloud gaming services, Facebook’s cloud games were added to its existing app.

“We’re not spinning off a separate cloud gaming service,” Facebook VP of Play Jason Rubin said in the announcement. “All cloud-streamed games are playable in the same way you play games now on Facebook — whether it’s in our Gaming tab or from News Feed.”

There is no hardware or controllers. Games can be played on mobile or desktop using a mouse and keyboard. Over 380 million people monthly already play games on Facebook and no one should be able to notice how the games are delivered.

Facebook said it is not trying to replace gaming hardware. “We believe cloud gaming will increase — not replace — the options to jump into great games,” Facebook said.

The services will not be available on Apple devices for the time being. “Unfortunately, we’re not launching cloud games on iOS, so only Android and web players will enjoy integrated cloud games on Facebook while we work on alternative options for iOS,” Rubin said. “Even with Apple’s new cloud games policy, we don’t know if launching on the App Store is a viable path.” 

Apple’s approach to games is different from Facebook’s, Rubin said, and Apple continues to “exert control over a very precious resource.” 

An Apple spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal on Monday (Oct. 26) that in order for games to be considered for the App Store, developers have to submit the games as individual apps that would then have to be downloaded. 

Rubin told WSJ that downloading from an app “defeats the purpose of cloud gaming.”

In light of the pandemic, Apple has temporarily stopped charging a 30 percent surcharge on fees that users pay to small businesses that host online events, similar to what Facebook calls “Paid Online Events.” 

A recent Facebook report indicates that 40 percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) made over 25 percent of their sales through digital channels.

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