It had to happen sooner or later. We all knew it was coming so it was just a matter of when. Type in the URL gameroom.com and you find out that time is now. Facebook has released its Steam competitor with the launch of its own self-contained, Steam-like, interface. Steam has demonstrated over time the self-contained sales platform idea not only works it's lucrative as well and Facebook is not one to let a money generating opportunity slide by unnoticed and this platform just might be the ticket to getting more games downloaded by Facebook netizens.
As you would expect the Gameroom app is slickly packaged and easily downloaded, installed and ready for use. As with most Windows apps you download and install with a click or two. Then like other mobile apps you go through the privileges you'll give to download and play the game. It is possible with some apps to edit the privileges the game asks for. When I downloaded Sandstorm Pirate Wars I could tick off the box that granted access to my friends list but I had to click on "Edit This" to do so.
The interface is easy to navigate and seems to be lightweight in terms of overhead, at least at this point of usage. After years of using Steam's platform this seemed natural enough to navigate and download items. The GUI has a left side panel that shows your games under the "My Games" heading. There are also links to All Games, Categories and Downloaded Games above the My Games list. Each game has its own colorful little graphic and info block which can be expanded into more info. The game listings also show the genre beneath the title. A very handy feature.
I also went through the process of installing and uninstalling a few games to see how the process worked and it's just as you'd expect. Straightforward. Just follow onscreen prompts if necessary. Your personal data collected during gameplay is still with the dev and you'll have to contact them to resolve any issues or request removal of the data. Not all apps allowed me to edit the privileges so be aware that like a lot of these games and other apps your friends list and your email address are collected. The downloads themselves were quick and seamless. I could play most games within minutes of initiating the download.
Steam led the way with this type of one stop shopping and continues to refine it today. The Steam platform has been a phenomenal success for Valve and Facebook is looking to do the same for Windows gaming. What's that you say? Windows??? Yes... Windows... you know... the OS that is still on over 283 million devices as of 2015 per Gartner cited by Wikipedia. While it's not the largest market it IS still a viable market and Facebook is not going to let Steam, or Microsoft for that matter, take it all without some healthy competition. On a side note, at a Unity Developers Conference it was noted that future versions of Unity will have an option to directly publish games to the Gameroom platform.
Of course, we're not exactly talking about the same games on both platforms either, now are we? Facebook caters to the mobile market whereas Steam is more general gamer centered if that is the proper term. It will be interesting to see what happens. To see if the market is indeed worth the effort and expenditure. Whatever happens at least Windows users can benefit from a central game location with simple downloads and easy installation.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. M.D. is currently working on VR projects and characters. You can learn more about MD at his website.