Facebook Gaming gets some big updates for cloud gaming launch

Earlier today, Facebook announced a new cloud gaming initiative that it's launching into beta. The test will start out small with just five games that are only available in portions of the US, but Facebook clearly has plans to expand it from here. Launching side-by-side with cloud games are a number of new features and improvements to the Facebook Gaming app, both on web and on Android.

Facebook today announced that it's rolling out Player Names and Avatars that people can use to represent themselves in-game. Facebook is clear that Player Names aren't a replacement for real names on Facebook proper, but rather exist as a representation of those users in the games they play. So for example, Facebook friends will still be able to see your real name and alongside your Player Name.

Facebook is also rolling out cross-play in games which use Facebook Login for Gaming. Essentially, this allows you to sync your progress and purchases across the Facebook version of these games and whatever dedicated apps that game may have. In addition, we'll see the roll out of cloud playable ads, which seems to be an extension of Facebook's cloud gaming roll out and its earlier HTML 5 playable ads. The idea is let developers offer a demo of their game as an advertisement, potentially pulling in more players than standard ads alone.

Facebook says that with these cloud ads, developers can create advertisements using the game's code, allowing them to roll out new ads in less time and with less money. Companies using cloud playable ads at the start include 2K, FunPlus, Gameloft, Glu Mobile, Gram Games, Rovio, and Wildlife Studios, so keep an eye out for those when browsing Facebook.

Finally, we have a number of discovery improvements heading to the Facebook Gaming app and webpage that should help developers find more players. New features include "favoriting, new discovery units, and updated notifications." Combined with the other features listed above, it sounds like the hope is that more developers will be able to find players for their games. Look for these changes to arrive on Facebook Gaming today.