Facebook cloud gaming beta squares off with Stadia and xCloud streaming

Facebook today announced that it's rolling out a cloud gaming beta to many people around the US. Cloud gaming has been in limited testing over at Facebook for some time, but now it seems the service is ready for testing on a wider scale. While this is a big launch for Facebook, the company also took the time today to set expectations for cloud gaming, telling users to expect something that's relatively small scale in a market that still has "a ways to go."

Indeed, in a blog post today, Facebook VP of Play Jason Rubin noted that "Cloud gaming announcements are prone to hype," and opened with a list of of goals and promises for cloud gaming. For instance, Rubin says that the company is not going "overpromise and under-deliver," nor is it trying to position cloud gaming as a replacement for existing gaming hardware. We'll also see the company start small with a narrow focus on free-to-play games much like the ones that are already available through Facebook Gaming.

Users also won't need to spend any money to play cloud games on Facebook, nor will they need any special hardware (at least at the outset) as Facebook will be focusing on native mobile games to start. Finally, Rubin confirmed that cloud games won't be available on iOS for the foreseeable future, launching instead on Android and web players. Facebook has already detailed its issues with Apple and gaming in the past, so it's safe to say that things haven't improved on that front.

With expectations about scale set, Rubin says that that Facebook cloud streaming is launching with five games – Asphalt 9: Legends, Mobile Legends: Adventure, PGA TOUR Gold Shootout, Solitaire: Arthur's Tale, and WWE SuperCard, with Red Bull's Dirt Bike Unchained launching in the coming weeks. That might seem like a random assortment of games, but Rubin says they were chosen because Facebook needed "latency-tolerant games" so cloud gaming can be used by as wide a userbase as possible here at the start of beta testing.

Cloud gaming will only be available in the US to start, and even then, not everyone in the US will be able to participate right away. The beta is only going live today to players in California, Texas, and a number of Mid-Atlantic states that includes Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and West Virginia. More regions in the US will come online in the coming months as Facebook builds out its cloud gaming infrastructure.

If you're in one of those regions and you want to take Facebook's cloud games for a spin, you can find them in the Facebook Gaming tab on Android or on the web at the Facebook Gaming website. We'll let you know when more regions and games come online, so stay tuned for more.