Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) formally announced plans to become a mobile gaming publisher, and they’re actively looking for developers that want to partner up with the social media giant, reports Kim-Mai Cutler of TechCrunch. Facebook would provide distribution in exchange for revenue, though they haven’t said what cut they would expect.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) says that the aim of the program is “to help small and medium-sized developers take their mobile games global,” and a number of gaming companies are already onboard including Brainbow, Kiwi and Space Ape. Although it’s intended for indie developers, publicly traded Gameloft is reportedly going to release a game called Kingdom & Lords through the program, so it could also be a way for large companies to hedge their bets by letting Facebook take on some of the risk.
Facebook struggles to redefine itself with mobile computing on the rise
This move comes at a time when many are questioning Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s basic business model. While it brings in plenty of ad revenue, people are spending more time on mobile devices, at the expense of browser-based games and social networks. People use the Facebook app for connecting with their friends, but tend to play games elsewhere.
This has prevented Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) from capitalizing on the in-app purchases that form the backbone of the iPhone and Android markets. Facebook and Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) have moved away from each other as neither seems certain that the other will navigate the change from desktop to mobile users.
This appears to be Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s first attempt to move in on the app market in a serious way, but it’s subject to the same pitfalls that plague the rest of their business. Facebook will need to resist the temptation to require the games it publishes to be played through its platform. While it might seem like a clever way to get people back onto the main site, it would really just be a way of doubling down on a strategy that doesn’t look like it’s working.
As long as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is publishing games that have a real chance of succeeding on their own, and using them for cross-promotion without requirements that would drive players away, it could be the growth strategy that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been looking for.