Facebook's hitting reset on its gaming efforts.
The social-networking giant said it's building a new gaming service, but don't expect to learn much about it yet. Other than saying it's being built for desktop and laptop computers, and describing it as a "dedicated, immersive experience we are building solely for gamers," the company is keeping tight-lipped about its newest initiative and won't say when it plans to announce more. Yeah, I don't understand it either.
What we do know is that Facebook used to be huge in games.
Back in 2012, when Facebook's shares were about to be listed on the public stock market for the first time, it was partnered with a gaming company called Zynga. You might remember some of its most popular titles, the Words With Friends and FarmVille series of games, which made money by offering games for free then charging players for additional features like help solving a puzzle or use of a special-colored tractor.
By September of that year, Zynga counted more than 311 million people playing its games at least once a month, and almost all of them were using Facebook to do it. That meant about a third of all Facebook users at the time were playing Zynga games. Through a partnership between the companies, Zynga shared the money it made with Facebook too. It was a lot of money -- more than $400 million in 2011.
The rest is history: People increasingly shifted attention away from games played on Facebook, choosing instead to play games made for phones and tablets, like Candy Crush Saga and Pokemon Go. Zynga's stock has lost about 75 percent of its value since the company went public in 2011.
What Facebook plans to do to help bring gamer's attention back to its service is anyone's guess. A company spokesman declined to comment about specifics. He did say more than 650 million people each month use Facebook in some way when they're playing games, whether it be on a mobile device, a video game console or a PC. That, by the way, is up from 450 million people last year. Though Facebook doesn't say what percentage of people are playing on Facebook's website.
Facebook also said it's striking a partnership with Unity Technologies, which makes tools that help people create games. The companies said people who make games using Unity's tools will more easily be able to make them available on Facebook. What does that mean?
I guess we'll find out eventually.