Facebook Delves into Cloud Games Amid Face-off with Apple

Facebook Delves into Cloud Games Amid Face-off with Apple

Facebook is following the steps of Microsoft and Google in developing cloud games. This is coming following the deteriorating faceoff between the social media giant and iPhone maker, Apple.

The games services will be launched on web and Android, but not on Apple store, as Facebook says the usability restriction on Apple’s store policy pose a challenge to the game services.

TechCrunch reported that Facebook is not building a console gaming competitor to compete with Stadia or xCloud, instead the focus is wholly on mobile games. The system is designed to offer gamers alternative to streaming games, as long their device is capable of running it locally.

Facebook is aiming to get users into games more quickly and put less friction between a user seeing an advertisement for a game and actually playing it themselves. This means, users can quickly tap into the title without downloading anything, and if they opt to download it from a mobile app store, they’ll be able to pick up from where they stopped.

Apple has been in all-out war with Facebook and other companies regarding their terms and conditions, which were labeled oppressive. Epic Games, who sued Apple in the summer, and Facebook are at the forefront of the squabble as their games on the iOS were heavily affected by Apple’s new policies.

Following the launch of iOS 14 last month, Facebook is required to ask for users’ permission before it could be allowed to harvest personal data for targeted ads. Alternative to this procedure will require setting up a completely new advertising account to run campaigns for iOS users.

This development has limited Facebook’s ability to collect users’ data on Apple smartphones, and will have a serious impact on its campaigns.

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Apple has had a gaming app (Instant Games) Facebook launched earlier in August blocked because the game app was offering alternative stores with content that it cannot vet. Facebook launched the app without gameplay functionality, and it can be used to watch streams of other people playing games.

Apple kicked video game Fortnite out of its store, following Epic’s, the game’s creator, adding a feature that allows players to buy virtual currency using an alternative means, which denies Apple the opportunity to take its 30% cut.

In another case, Apple refused to waive fees for Facebook on its paid Online Events feature. The Online Event feature is designed to allow small businesses and individuals to organize paid digital events that Facebook users can sign up for and sell tickets.

Facebook had asked Apple to waive the 30 percent fee it charges from the in-app purchases for Online Events or allow Facebook process events payments using Facebook Pay. Apple turned the request down saying that it goes against its policy and App Store guidelines.

Following these incidents, Zuckerberg said Apple is becoming monopolistic and anti-competitive, and its practices are becoming harmful to customers.

“Apple has this unique stranglehold as a gatekeeper on what gets on phones. Zuckerberg told more than its 50,000 employees during a Q&A session. He added that California-based company’s app store “Cupertino blocks innovation, blocks competition and allows Apple to charge monopoly rents.”

Although Apple said in a conversation with TechCrunch, that they have continued to engage with Facebook on bringing its gaming efforts under its guidelines and that platforms can reach iOS by either submitting each individual game to App Store for review or operating their service on Safari, the social media giant seems to have had enough.

Apple had recently updated its policy to allow the game apps to exist, but it’s in a more convoluted capacity than the platform makers had hoped. The policy forces them to first send users to the App Store before being able to cloud stream a gaming title on their platform.

Facebook gaming executive, Jason Rubin says they are a non-starter for what Facebook’s platforms envisions – a way to start playing mobile games immediately without downloading anything.

Rubin said in terms of building the new platform onto the mobile web, without being able to point users of their iOS app to browser-based experiences, as current rules forbid, Facebook doesn’t see pushing its billions of users to accessing the service primarily from a browser as a reasonable alternative.

The steps taken by Apple to calm the storm generated by its policies, including the decision to withhold its cut through the end of the year for ticket sales of small businesses hosting online events, failed.

Facebook’s move for cloud games could cost the iPhone maker a fortune. Tech Crunch noted that Apple’s reticence to allow major gaming platforms a path toward independently serving up games to consumers underscores the significant portion of App Store revenues that could be eliminated by a consumer shift toward these cloud platforms.

Apple earned around $50 billion from the App Store last year, and according to CNBC’s estimate, gaming has been their most profitable vertical.

Facebook will be launching the cloud game services conservatively this week, starting with free services across a few states in the United States.

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