Facebook’s Cloud Gaming Service Now Available On iOS


Several platforms, including Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix, have been trying or expanding their offerings by introducing cloud gaming to their users. In June, Microsoft announced the availability of Xbox Cloud Gaming serviceOpens a new window on Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets to gamers across 22 countries. Amazon, too, had launched its cloud gaming servicesOpens a new window last year.

Facebook had already announced its cloud gaming service back in October 2020. However, it was limited to Android users in a closed beta form. The social media giant finally launched its cloud gaming service on Friday for iPad and iPhone through a web application. Users can add this web app to their device home screens, similar to a native app.

🚨 Cloud Gaming Launch Alert 🚨

Starting today: play Facebook cloud games on iOS browsers!

🧭Open Safari on your iOS device
🕹 Go to in Safari
🌩 Browse and play cloud games
📲 Save to your home screen for easy access! pic.twitter.com/zukhpcDNB8Opens a new window

— Facebook Gaming (@FacebookGaming) July 23, 2021Opens a new window

For now, the site will allow users to play simple games like Solitaire and match-threes and stream more graphically intensive games like racing. Currently, the cloud games from Facebook are available to users in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, while the web application is available to everyone on Safari. Users living outside the regions mentioned above can play HTML5 games using the web app. The gaming service will be extended to Western and Central Europe by early 2022.

Having said that, it is yet unclear how users will find the web app due to Apple’s rules. Apple’s rules bar third-party platforms like Facebook to steer app usersOpens a new window away to sites featuring purchase mechanisms that do not belong to Apple. This has been a point of friction not only to platforms like Facebook but also gaming companies like Epic. Back in March, Epic had filed a lawsuitOpens a new window against Apple, citing an unfair payment system. Epic and Apple have also been involved in several other legal battles regarding the latter’s policies for some time now.

Last year, Facebook, too, had a dispute with Apple regarding its App Store policies and had to launch Facebook GamingOpens a new window on iOS without any games. Later, Apple modified its rules to accommodate cloud-based games with certain restrictions. However, according to Microsoft and few others, these changes did not support their intent to release their gaming storefronts on Apple devices.

Also read: Microsoft Restores Xbox Live 3 Days After Outage Wrecked Multiple Gaming Services

Facebook’s Entry Into Cloud Gaming

Facebook has not established itself in the gaming industry yet. However, it has been acquiring a few gaming companiesOpens a new window over the last two years and releasing a few free-to-play games like Asphalt 9. It has also partnered with a few companies like Ubisoft, a popular game developer, to bring games like Assassin’s Creed Rebellion as part of its gaming service. The social media giant claims to have 1.5 million monthly players for its cloud games.

Facebook’s game library includes those based on HTML5 along with more advanced ones that directly stream from the cloud. These games use Facebook’s custom payment systems known as Facebook Pay to make in-game purchases.

Working Around Apple Store Policies

Facebook’s approach to bringing cloud games to iOS is similar to those of Microsoft and Amazon. Both these companies have launched progressive web apps for their cloud gaming services to work around the Apple Store’s restrictions. Similarly, Facebook too offers a PWA, which users can download by visiting its gaming websiteOpens a new window .

According to a statementOpens a new window given to The Verge by Vivek Sharma, vice president of gaming, Facebook, “We’ve come to the same conclusion as others: web apps are the only option for streaming cloud games on iOS at the moment. As many have pointed out, Apple’s policy to ‘allow’ cloud games on the App Store doesn’t allow for much at all. Apple’s requirement for each cloud game to have its own page, go through review, and appear in search listings defeats the purpose of cloud gaming. These roadblocks mean players are prevented from discovering new games, playing cross-device, and accessing high-quality games instantly in native iOS apps — even for those who aren’t using the latest and most expensive devices.”

Also read: Epic Games NOT a Modern Corporate Robin Hood, Says Apple

Challenges for Facebook To Overcome

While Facebook may have found a temporary solution around Apple’s restrictive policies, it still faces a few challenges imposed on web games by the Safari browser. For example, games are unable to send push notifications, the sound is on mute by default, and the graphics are not as good as native apps. There are a few other limitations with PWAs compared to native apps. There are also challenges to the discoverability of cloud games by third parties. While the developers of games featured by Facebook can do their own marketing, the efforts would yield poorer results than the traffic from the main Facebook app.

Further, the process of adding a PWA is complicated, due to which, Facebook has provided a short how-to when users first go to its gaming website on Safari.

So, how will Facebook solve these challenges? We are yet to see.

What do you think of Facebook’s move? Let us know on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window .