Today sees the developer launch of its Gameroom Windows desktop gaming platform. Gameroom has actually been brewing for months, going through various stages of name changes, beta tests and dev solicitations. Now officially named Gameroom, the gaming app's beta build has finally opened up to all developers. The app is openly available for users to download on Windows 7 or more recent versions.
Gameroom is run by Facebook, but it's not part of the social networking site. It's actually a dedicated PC app that will let users play web, ported mobile and native Gameroom games without the distractions of the News Feed.
Valve’s #Steam platform is the current go-to desktop gaming app, and it's already captured a huge share of the market, with well over 125 million active users. For all Facebook's clout, it's going to face an uphill battle trying to beat Valve on their home turf. Facebook is going to have to sell itself on the massive reach of its social network to entice developers to make content for their platform.
But will the gamers themselves go for it? Many hardcore gamers that form Steam's user base may scoff at Facebook's attempt to steal them. Back in the day, when Facebook was chock-full of casual web games like Farmville and low quality micro-transaction traps, Facebook gaming was a bit of a joke.
Facebook has to shake its previous reputation and persuade gamers of Gameroom's advantages. Facebook will pitch a more social experience than Steam and if they succeed they'll be able to enjoy the many benefits of owning a gaming platform.
Follow the Money
If Facebook can get Gameroom off the ground, they could earn up to a 30 percent revenue cut when users pay for games. Gameroom could also deepen the player's reliance on the Facebook social network, giving extra value to 'regular' Facebook use, but also making it harder for the gamer to ditch the social platform. For developers looking to advertise their games, Facebook has a lot to offer with its News Feed. If PC gamers take to Gameroom and start streaming their gameplay, the platform can also generate a bunch of content for Facebook Live
Could Facebook really be a contender?
Here's Steam's competition so far. You'll notice that most of them exclusively carry a particular publisher's titles:
- Origin - EA's version of Steam, required to play the latest EA games such as Battlefield and Dragon Age: Inquisition.
- Uplay - For Ubisoft games.
- GoG - Good Old Games is one of the more popular competitors and not just for older titles, offers good prices and selection and scored a big win with deals on The Witcher franchise.
- Battlenet - Required to play Blizzard games such as Heroes of the Storm and World of Warcraft
If Facebook manages to get a decent range of titles and some exclusive deals, it might have a fighting chance, playing off the wide reach of its established user base.
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