The newest game on Facebook is one of the oldest in history — Pac-Man — but it has a twist. This version of Pac-Man is a competitive four-player take on the arcade classic intended to be livestreamed on the Facebook Gaming platform, so viewers can compete against streamers in a matter of seconds.
The title is called Pac-Man Community, and it's project commissioned directly by Facebook parent company Meta with one of its developer partners, Genvid, that last year produced a unique Facebook reality show and video game hybrid called Rival Peak. This new take on Pac-Man, with the blessing and input of Japanese IP holder Bandai Namco, is a Facebook Gaming exclusive, existing inside the company's main mobile app as an HTML5-powered browser game and on the web too.
Because of the underlying delivery mechanism and its small file size, the game loads almost instantly and does not require a download of any sort. That's par for the course with browser games, but it's especially helpful for Pac-Man Community because it allows Meta to deploy its "Play With Streamer" feature.
With an invite link, Facebook Gaming creators livestreaming Pac-Man Community are able to invite viewers to play against them, with the link loading the game in a matter of seconds. The feature is similar to one Google has tried with Stadia using links on YouTube's livestreaming component, though with mixed results.
Genvid CEO Jacob Navok, a former cloud gaming executive at Square Enix's now-defunct Shinra Technologies, said the goal was to find a game that fit his company's focus on using livestreaming technology to enable new types of online experiences. Earlier this year, Genvid raised more than $110 million in series C funding to create what Navok is calling “massive interactive live events,” be them gaming or broader entertainment events.
"The No. 1 problem we saw was that if a streamer was in the middle of a big dragon part or part of a quest or playing a battle royale, it's very hard to allow for massive audiences to organically be a part of that," Navok told Protocol. "What you really want are really quick sessions that anyone can participate in really quickly." Pac-Man, it turns out, fits the bill rather nicely, and Novak, with his experience in the Japanese gaming industry, had the connections at Bandai Namco to pull it off.
The Facebook Gaming division is also using Pac-Man Community to test out an all-new livestreaming feature in which viewers can participate in a game of livestreamed Pac-Man controlled by in-game artificial intelligence, helping either the titular character or its AI ghost antagonists by interacting with the stream. The goal in the future is to create new types of viewer-controlled livestreams in the spirit of the famous Twitch Plays Pokémon experiment that make audience input an integral focus of what's happening onscreen.