Facebook is set to become the latest big tech company to move into cloud-based gaming, marking its biggest push to position itself as a destination for playing video games since the heyday of FarmVille a decade ago.
Users of Facebook’s website and main Android app will be able to play a new game instantly, without first having to download software as they would on Apple’s App Store or Google Play.
Zynga’s FarmVille and a range of other social games were wildly popular on Facebook’s desktop website in 2009-10 but failed to make the jump to the social network’s mobile app. In the years since, Facebook has ceded its position as the main portal for casual gaming to Apple and Google.
“If you want to build communities, you have to be involved in games,” said Jason Rubin, who is leading the new initiative at Facebook, pointing to the hundreds of millions of its users who watch or chat about games today and the lucrative ad business that targets them.
In recent years, Facebook has offered only very simple mini-games through its mobile apps, including what it calls “instant games” on Messenger and its new standalone Gaming app.