Facebook makes it easier for indie games to come to its casual platform


Facebook has announced that Gameroom — its new PC gaming platform that looks like Steam for casual games — will soon accept uploads from Unity developers. The app, launched last month, will let game makers using the upcoming Unity 5.6 game engine export their creations directly to the platform, playable alongside big-name Facebook and mobile games like Clash of Kings on Windows PCs outside of Facebook itself.

The social network first announced that it was working on a gaming platform back in May, offering a beta build of Facebook Games Arcade — as it was previously known — to designers. The company clarified its intentions again in August, announcing a partnership with Unity that would allow developers to easily transfer games built in the engine to Facebook’s platform, before launching the renamed Gameroom at Unity’s annual Unite conference today.

Steam will remain the platform of choice for PC gamers

It’s this Unity connection that makes Gameroom a potentially intriguing prospect for hardcore gamers. With its huge install base, vast catalog, and focus on “proper” video games, Steam should remain the platform of choice for the serious PC gamer, but Unity has established itself as the preferred engine for some of the most interesting and intelligent indie designers around. If Facebook can snare a few of the titles produced by these luminaries then it could establish Gameroom as a place for more than just casual games.

But attempting to rival Steam likely isn’t Facebook’s main intention. Instead, Gameroom serves as a way to keep people inside Facebook’s ecosystem — as well as earning money from successful games uploaded to the service — and to highlight other games dedicated players may otherwise have missed in Facebook’s regular UI. The company also doesn’t need to worry too much about starting from scratch: it can draw on an existing install base of millions who play Facebook games like 8 Ball Pool, Criminal Case, and Candy Crush Saga every day.

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