Facebook is making an audacious play for the gaming market in a deal with Unity Technologies, the company behind the popular Unity games development engine.
The surprise "strategic partnership" will see Unity integrate support for Facebook's platform, including the firm's forthcoming PC gaming platform which is currently under development.
The two companies will collaborate to build new capabilities into Unity to streamline the process for exporting and publishing games on Facebook, helping to build it up into a more sophisticated platform.
In the process, Facebook will inevitably challenge Google, Microsoft and Valve Software, the company behind the popular Steam gaming portal.
Facebook claimed that the deal will help games developers make more money via Facebook. The gaming model is more focused towards in-app purchases, which are typically eschewed by hardcore gamers, which Facebook claims made $2.5bn for web game developers in 2015.
"Developers channel their talent and passion into creating amazing games, but development is only part of the challenge," said Elliot Solomon, vice president of business development at Unity Technologies.
""Integrating tools that provide effortless access to Facebook's network is a key part of helping developers find the success they deserve."
A selected group of developers have already been given immediate access to a closed-alpha build of the export-to-Facebook functionality in Unity version 5.4, and applications are being invited from other games developers to join.
Applications are being accepted until the end of August, and new applicants will be taken up on an ongoing basis throughout the testing period.
Unity claims to have a 45 per cent share of the gaming engine market. The platform is used by 47 per cent of games developers, some 4.5 million people, and by 600 million gamers.
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