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Facebook announces Gameroom, a gaming platform for Windows

Facebook has announced a brand-new PC gaming platform, and it’s exactly how you would imagine it to be. Gameroom brings the infamous Facebook games to the PC – almost natively.

Facebook Gameroom

Gameroom sits in a weird place – at least for now; it isn’t a Steam competitor (for reasons explained below), and it doesn’t always deliver native games. Facebook has managed to build something strange, and it isn’t clear what it intends to do with it.

The push for PC

It’s unclear why the PC platform is suddenly turning into a hotbed of competition among these big players – these same companies were claiming that mobile was the future of gaming only a few years ago.

Perhaps Facebook is interested in PC, because of its failure to penetrate the iOS and Android gaming markets. Facebook could also be trying to build a base for Oculus – although, Oculus already offers its Oculus Home for pretty much the same purpose.

The limitations

Gameroom offers three types of games at the moment – web, ported mobile, and native. It’s hard to make a distinction among these within the Gameroom UI, but quite easy when you launch these games.

Gameroom isn’t going big either; the native games are limited to 200 MB in size – you aren’t going to purchase Gears of War 4 on Gameroom anytime soon. Facebook will allow games up to 500 MB on a per-case basis, but large games are not the point of Gameroom.

The point

It’s hard to grasp the point of Gameroom – it’s just sitting there without much to offer. Facebook has over a billion users, while the most popular PC gaming platform – Steam – has 125 million daily active users; it’s not really a comparison, but the numbers do matter.

Facebook has virtually infinite amount of money to spend on it – and it has reasons to do so as well, with its Oculus purchase and push for VR, it wants to be there when social interaction goes to the virtual reality.

It is the future – it has been in sci-fi movies for generations – being somewhere, without actually doing so. Gameroom’s comparison with Steam shouldn’t be about numbers, but the way it evolved.

Valve built Steam as an annoying client required to launch Half-Life 2 – everyone hated it at launch because it was clunky and had more bugs than features. The only purpose Steam served was to deliver updates for Half-Life.

For now, Facebook’s Gameroom is in the same position; it’s just sitting there without offering anything more than casual social Facebook games. The average PC gamer with a comically large game library spanning the empire of Steam, GOG, Origin, UPlay, Battle.net and others has no reason to install Gameroom.

Oculus Home and the Oculus brand targets that gamer – for now – but Gameroom isn’t targeted towards the same demographic.

Gameroom is for the casual Facebook gamer who just wants to play some games and get away from the News Feed. The trouble is – this demographic isn’t going to purchase expensive VR headsets. Gameroom – at the moment – doesn’t provide gamers anything new, and that is the same problem that Valve had with Steam.

For Gameroom, it is the future – and what Facebook has planned for it – that matters.

If you do want to give it a try, the client is available for Windows 7 and above over here.

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