Facebook Gaming, Minus the Gaming, Debuts on iOS

The social network and Apple could not reach an agreement

X marks the spot Facebook Gaming

The stand-alone Facebook Gaming application was finally released for iOS Friday, but it is missing one notable feature: the games.

The social network could not reach an agreement with Apple on the inclusion of Instant Games in the app.

Just as in the Android app, users can watch gaming videos from livestreamers, use the app to livestream their own games and connect with gaming groups on Facebook.

However, the two tech giants could not agree on a way to include the gaming in Facebook Gaming.

Apple cited an iTunes App Store guideline stating that HTML5 games are permitted as long as “code distribution isn’t the primary purpose of the app.”

Facebook countered that playing games is not the app’s primary purpose, saying that 95% of activity on the Android Facebook Gaming app is made up of people watching livestreams, while just 5% is from users playing games.

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement, “Gaming brings people together. And that’s even more important today amidst the pandemic. Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple’s approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app—meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android. We’re staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month—whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not.”

Facebook Gaming vice president Vivek Sharma added, “Even on the main Facebook app and Messenger, we’ve been forced to bury Instant Games for years on iOS. This is shared pain across the games industry, which ultimately hurts players and developers and severely hamstrings innovation on mobile for other types of formats, like cloud gaming. And while it’s disheartening to deliver only part of the Facebook Gaming app experience on iOS, our gaming creators have asked for it for a while. We thank them for waiting this long.”

And Facebook Gaming added in a series of tweets describing the dispute, “We can afford to spend about six months grinding through Apple reviews, but many others can’t. And while we could have tried additional appeals, we didn’t want to hold back from launching the version for livestreamers and fans. We’re sorry to developers and players for launching an experience that doesn’t match what you’re used to on Facebook Gaming.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
Publish date: August 7, 2020 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/facebook-gaming-minus-the-gaming-debuts-on-ios/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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