Forget Farmville, Facebook's new game platform offers real, triple-A games

Facebook as a gaming platform just leveled up

Facebook Unity

Facebook as a gaming platform just leveled up. The service that once hosted ephemeral favorites as Farmville, Candy Crush and Bejeweled will now host games like Firewatch, Gone Home and Ori and the Blind Forest thanks to a recent partnership with game engine maker Unity.

The two struck a deal earlier today that will allow developers creating the next hit game on Unity to directly publish a version of the game to Facebook without working with the unwieldy Facebook API.

So why does Facebook suddenly care about supplying you with games with actual stories?

Facebook intends to become its own gaming platform, similar to Steam but with more integrated social features, and the partnership with Unity is the first step towards getting there. It started back in May when Facebook launched a standalone app for gamers called Facebook Arcade that will soon transform from an App Store clone to a more mature, fully fleshed out service.

And while the idea of more game notifications sound like something of a nightmare, it's actually a win-win deal. Game makers will have access to 650 million potential new buyers and gamers will start seeing more traditional PC-style games pop up in their News Feed at some point in the near future.

The deal is similar to Microsoft's move to recently integrate the Xbox Store into Windows 10, which gives better visibility to game developers – and, more importantly – extra money in Microsoft's pocket.

Unity is selecting a limited group of developers to receive immediate access to a closed-alpha build of the new export to Facebook functionality today and new developers will be on-boarded on an ongoing basis throughout the testing period.

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