Everyone's rushing into gaming these days, and that includes Facebook.
At a cloud-focused Game Developers Conference (GDC), Alphabet
touted an array of gaming services powered by their respective cloud platforms. But other tech giants, including Facebook, are trying to boost their posture with the influential gaming set, as well.
The notion of Facebook (FB) - Get Report gaming, for some, may still call to mind Farmville or Mafia Wars, two once ubiquitous "social games" games created by Zynga , formerly a close partner of Facebook's around the time its Newsfeed was becoming a daily ritual for many users.
A lot has changed in gaming since then, of course. Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet are pushing high-fidelity gaming through new cloud services, including game streaming services such as Google Stadia. With the market for games growing fast, figuring out the best way to deliver and monetize games is a huge opportunity for those in the running.
Facebook, for one, is adding a dedicated gaming tab within its main app alongside other sections like Watch or Marketplace, and has dipped its toe into eSports streaming, with mixed results. It's also working on a standalone gaming app, called Fb.gg, which is intended to be a mobile gaming community that could compete with the likes of Amazon's Twitch.
Facebook is also the parent company of Oculus, an early leader in virtual reality gaming -- but it's not totally clear to what extent Oculus lines up with Facebook's other gaming initiatives.
On a Feb. 26 call with investors, Facebook characterized Oculus as an "innovation investment" that will be part of the company's 40% to 50% total growth in expenses in 2019, according to Facebook CFO David Wehner.
Facebook is planning to launch Quest, an all-in-one VR headset that doesn't require a computer to run, sometime this year. On the call, Wehner called it a moreimmersive...VRexperienceportal"and noted that Facebook will continue to invest in itin 2019.
Unlike GDCs in years past, virtual reality wasn't the first thing on the minds of attendees, with some skeptical that the tech is truly ready for prime time.
"VR seems like more of a novelty, because the tech isn't there," said Noah Milam, a developer at Edgeworks Entertainment experienced in building AR and VR games. "Wait until the tech is here, and then you can tell me it's the future."
Facebook isn't the only social media company going deeper into gaming.
According to reports, Snap (SNAP) - Get Report is also contracting with third-party developers on a project codenamed Project Cognac, which will make it possible to launch and run games within the Snapchat app.
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