Facebook apparently has some big plans for Gameroom, its new PC gaming platform that looks like it could be related to Steam if someone ordered a paternity test. That's probably not by accident. While the initial focus has been on developing Gameroom as a front-end for casual games, Facebook just opened the door for Unity developers to come wade in the Gameroom beta. It also announced that Facebook support will be a part of Unity 5.6 when it ships next year.
"With Facebook Gameroom, Facebook is introducing an easier way for developers to bring high-quality games to the PC to take full advantage of the CPU and GPU native power. The Facebook build target lets you deploy your projects to either the new Gameroom desktop app for Windows as a native Windows player, or to Facebook.com using Unity’s WebGL support," Facebook explains in a blog post.
"When the Facebook target build is active in the Unity Editor, you can use the Facebook SDK for Unity API to share content with Facebook friends, access the Graph API, and more. You will also be able to use the Unity IAP service to handle in-app purchases on Facebook. Everything you need comes integrated with Unity out of the box — you can even upload your builds to be hosted by Facebook directly from the Unity Editor," Facebook added.
Gameroom didn't exactly come out of nowhere. Facebook let it be known several months ago that it was working on a gaming platform, which at the time it was calling Facebook Games Arcade. Then in August Facebook announced it was partnering with Unity to make it easier for developers to export their Unity games to Facebook. Now here we are with the renamed platform ready to kick things in high gear.
Without the Unity partnership, Gameroom isn't all that interesting—basically just a way to access casual titles outside of your News feed. But with Unity on board, there's massive potential here, at least in time. Facebook is starting things off slow by limiting games it hosts to 200MB, or up to 500MB on a case-by-case basis. That means no Grand Theft Auto V (not a Unity game, anyway) in the near future.
Facebook is presumably playing the long game here. As it opens up Gameroom to bigger titles and more game engines, it could be a serious threat to Steam down the line. Steam probably isn't sweating things at the moment, but consider Facebook's huge audience, plus the fact that it lure developers and publishers with advertising deals. And to take things a step further, it could integrate things like Facebook Live into Gameroom, allowing gamers to broadcast. Obviously we're getting way ahead of ourselves, but remember, Facebook started off as a small bit of code, too.
In any even, if you to try Gameroom for yourself, go here to download and install the app.