There are probably a handful of people that are wistful for the days of Facebook gaming, where we plagued our friends and family with requests for social games that required us to “Share to your Wall” in order to advance. Oh, to be back in those days where I could advance exactly one level before the game got all Multi-Level Marketing on me. “Tell your friends about this game, so that you can continue!” And, of course, they’ll tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and then everyone can play this game exactly one level!
Since then, we’ve all moved onto mobile games, where we download our apps, play exactly one level, and then we get asked…
The medium has shifted to our phones, where we’re plugged in most of the day anyway, but the schema hasn’t evolved. Free games require social capital and microtransactions. Facebook was the first platform that provided games like Candy Crush and Farmville with a mass of casual gamers to fulfill those demands. So when the casual players moved toward their phones and abandoned Facebook’s desktop interface, it hit Facebook right where it hurt: their bottom line.
Cue Facebook Gameroom, a Windows-only “app store” that enables casual gamers to bring their mobile games to their desktops, freeing them from the noisy nonsense of Facebook’s News Feed. But hey, there are a couple of instances where Gameroom could make a Real Difference in this saturated market space.
Treating smartphones like cigarettes has become workplace standard, much to the chagrin of middle management. So, why not remove the smartphone and install Facebook Gameroom? Alt-tabbing has never been sexier.
Getting Grandpa Into Vidya Games
Grandpa’s already on his busted-down desktop from 2005, so why not use this as an opportunity to get him into some lighthearted games like Cooking Mama or an action game like Drachenkrieger? (Okay, admittedly, I know nothing about the latter of those games.) Steam’s interface is too Core Gaming for Grandpa. But now he needs a Facebook account. Oh no, Grandpa! Come back! Facebook isn’t safe!
And we’ve lost him to Facebook’s Trending News, arguably the platform’s most valuable feature, of course.
Facebook Gameroom is a tone deaf attempt at re-capturing Facebook’s erstwhile mobile gaming segment.
The appeal of mobile gaming is, well, in the mobile angle. I’m standing in line. I’m bored. Twitter is boring at the moment. I’m going to play Cookie Jam for ten minutes. Outside of killing time in a corporate environment, Facebook Gameroom has no real purpose. It’s a platform that serves a casual market that is now almost entirely mobile. They’re not tethered to their computers anymore. More and more of them use tablets instead of dedicated computers and they’re just fine with that, thank you very much.
Facebook’s investment in Oculus Rift gave them an in to the core gaming market, which is where Gameroom’s money should have been invested. Even if Facebook wanted to recapture the mobile market, their attention is better served in getting VR to mainstream as effectively as possible. If I learned nothing else from Star Trek, it’s that casual games in VR are addictive as all get out. That is where the real money is, Facebook, not in this ill-fated attempt at becoming a Steam quasi-competitor.