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Facebook Gaming Embraces The Cloud But Not Apple

Image via Tim Bennett on Unsplash

Last month marked the end of an era when Zynga announced it would discontinue FarmVille on Facebook at the end of the year. At its peak in 2010, the game had become the most popular game on Facebook with nearly 35 million daily active users. Zynga's decision to discontinue FarmVille was prompted by Facebook's decision to stop supporting games running on Flash Player on December 31.

Facebook announced yesterday its latest gaming initiative with the launch of several cloud-streamed games in the Facebook app and browser. If Facebook has its way, you won't even notice the difference between the new games and the ones in HTML5 more than 380 million people currently play each month on Facebook.

"We're doing free-to-play games, we're doing games that are latency-tolerant, at least to start,” VP of Facebook Play Jason Rubin told The Verge. "We're not promising 4K, 60fps, so you pay us $6.99 per month. We're not trying to get you to buy a piece of hardware, like a controller."

While the news isn't a surprise since 200,000 people were already playing the new games, a notable omission from the release stood out. Facebook announced cloud games won't be launching on Apple's iOS, giving only Android and web players access to the games.

"Even with Apple's new cloud games policy, we don't know if launching on the App Store is a viable path," Rubin wrote. "While our iOS path is uncertain, one thing is clear. Apple treats games differently and continues to exert control over a very precious resource."

Apple wants Facebook to enable the new games on the mobile web version of Facebook, while Facebook wants users to play the games within the Facebook app on iOS.

"We don't want people going to web Facebook 20 times a day. We have a great app," Rubin said. "We would have to use Apple's technology and browser on iOS, and that isn't optimized to the benefit of cloud games."

Rubin then took his fight with Apple to Twitter, even picking up a retweet from Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, who is in the middle of a public feud with Apple himself.

"Apple claimed to offer us 'helpful feedback' in this story," Rubin tweeted. "Responding to multiple requests for approval of our iOS cloud concepts with "this fails under policy" is better than the radio silence we have experienced at times in the past, but that's hardly 'helpful feedback.'"

With tech giants increasingly getting into the gaming industry, this is just the latest in a series of spats and likely won't be the last.

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