There was a time when gaming was a huge deal on Facebook. Back when it had a partnership with Zynga, everyone was playing games like Farmville and Cityville, and the company was making $500 hundred million in revenue.
Then users started migrating toward mobile, the two companies broke up, Zynga crashed and Facebook noticably lost interest in being the same force it had been in the gaming space. Despite all of that, there's still a big opportunity there, one that development platform Unity is going to try to take advantage of.
The two companies announced a new partnership on Thursday, making it easier for developers on the Unity platform ability to export and publish their games onto Facebook. This will give the developers access to a pretty large, built-in audience, as there are currently over 650 million people who play games on Facebook. That represents 38 percent of Facebook's 1.71 billion monthly active users.
Unity is a cross-platform game engine that providers developers with tools and resources to build their games, including animation, graphics, optimization, scripting and continuous updates. Some popular games powered by Unity include Kerbal Space Program, Lucky's Tale, Hitman Sniper, Gardenarium and Monument Valley. Its developer reach 600 million gamers.
Partnering with Unity makes a lot of sense for Facebook, as the company says on its website that it has a 45 percent share of the full feature game engine market, roughly three times that of its closest competitor, along with 47 percent of developers.
There's a big potential upside for Facebook as well, beyond just giving its gaming platform a boost. Looking down the road a bit, Facebook will want to develop more games for the Oculus Rift. The device, which started shipping in March, already supports a number of games, including ADR1FT, The Town of Light and Kittypocalypse, but as more people start adopting it, it's going to need to start giving users more titles to choose from.
Partnering with Unity could be a smart way for Facebook, which owns Oculus, to develop a relationship with virtual reality game developers, which could help the company get them on board later on.
Developers are already being allowed to submit applications to be one of a limited number who will get immediate access to a closed-alpha build of the new export to Facebook functionality. They have until the end of this month to apply. They can apply here.
In addition, Facebook also makes mention of "an all-new PC gaming platform currently in development," where Unity developers will be able to export their games.
The details were pretty limited. VatorNews reached out to Facebook to find out how more details. We will update this story if we learn more.
Unity's customers include such big names as Cartoon Network, Coca-Cola, Disney, Electronic Arts, LEGO, Microsoft, NASA, Nexon, Nickelodeon, Square, Ubisoft and Warner Bros. And now those companies will be able to more easily put their titles on Facebook. That could help make Facebook one of the premiere gaming platforms again, like it was a few years ago.
Facebook may not be the force in gaming it once was, but that doesn't mean it won't be again.