Facebook wants to prove that it can offer up more compelling video game experiences than the likes of Farmville and Candy Crush Saga. The site’s campaign to win over gamers began in earnest with the acquisition of Oculus in 2014, but Thursday it took another step forward with the announcement of a new gaming platform.
This new venture will get underway with an extension of the relationship between Facebook and Unity Technologies, the company responsible for the Unity cross-platform game engine.
Facebook wants to make it easier for Unity developers to publish their games to the social media service. To that end, the the engine will soon be adding an option to export directly to Facebook, streamlining the process significantly to help content creators reach the millions of users that visit the site on a daily basis.
A select group of developers will be given access to a closed alpha build of this functionality Thursday, with more being added to the program on an ongoing basis, according to a report from Engadget. Anyone looking to be included in this test period can register using this form.
Lots of big-name titles use Unity, so making it easy to publish games to Facebook using the engine certainly makes sense in terms of starting up a gaming platform. Theoretically, games as diverse as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Firewatch, Superhot, and Monument Valley could all be ported with a minimal amount of effort from their developers.
Ever since Facebook acquired Oculus, there have been questions about the company’s gaming strategy. Today’s developments give some insight into its approach: work with developers to make sure publishing games to Facebook is straightforward, then set about building up a platform that can be used to sell VR content.