Facebook on Thursday announced an expansion of its cloud gaming service, which launched last October in a private beta. The company says users of the Facebook mobile app can now stream more than 25 different games, with its coverage area now including the vast majority of the U.S.
"We've now scaled our infrastructure significantly, and today we're announcing coverage to over 98% of people in the mainland United States," said Jason Rubin, Facebook's gaming chief. "We're on track to hit 100% by fall of this year. We're also beginning our rollout in Canada and Mexico, and will reach Western and Central Europe by early 2022." The company says it has more than 1.5 million monthly players streaming a game from the cloud.
Rubin says Facebook is sticking to the commitments it made last year at launch, including not building out its cloud gaming service as a subscription product to try and compete with console, mobile or PC and focusing on free-to-play mobile games best enjoyed on a smartphone screen. "For us, cloud-streaming is a way to deliver cross-device, instant access to games, wherever people want to play. People play our cloud-streamed games right alongside games in HTML5. And they shouldn't have to think too hard about how the games are delivered so long as we do our jobs right," Rubin said.
While it doesn't make mention of it by name, Facebook is in effect talking about competing cloud gaming services like Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, which now includes Xbox Cloud Gaming as a free add-on, and Google Stadia. Both have a subscription element that costs money, whereas Facebook is clearly focused on a more casual gaming audience and is choosing to focus on experiences already designed for mobile. The justification there is that players might want o jump instantly into a free game that's at home on a smartphone screen without the fuss of downloading, instead of paying for a service to stream an Xbox or PC game not built originally on mobile in a situation that might require a Bleutooth controller.
Recent additions to Facebook's platform including RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch and Lego Legacy: Heroes Unboxed. The company is also announcing a partnership with Ubisoft to bring the existing Assassin's Creed Rebellion mobile game to its cloud platform, marking a more premium offering now available to stream for free with more Ubisoft titles to come.