Youtube and Twitch don’t have much competition when it comes to streaming platforms for the gaming community, but Facebook wants to change that with a new dedicated mobile gaming app.
According to the New York Times, Facebook’s new gaming app will largely focus on the game streaming community, although it will also include casual games that users might play online already, including Words with Friends. The gaming app, which is scheduled to be introduced on April 20th, will also only be available on Android devices first. Facebook has plans to release the app for iOS devices once “Apple approves them.”
With Facebook Gaming’s steady growth and the current increase in viewership and streaming both due to the pandemic, Facebook feels like now is the perfect time to launch the new app. It was originally supposed to launch in June, according to the Times, but Facebook moved it up to meet current demand.
“Investing in gaming, in general, has become a priority for us because we see gaming as a form of entertainment that really connects people,” Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app, told the New York Times. “It’s entertainment that’s not just a form of passive consumption but entertainment that is interactive and brings people together.”
Facebook has invested a lot in gaming for years and has tried to build up its streaming community by partnering with different creators and hosting e-sports competitions. Despite Facebook’s huge user base, it still lags behind Twitch and YouTube when it comes to hours of gameplay watched.
Facebook Gaming is growing. Facebook Gaming saw a 210% increase in hours watched between December 2018 and December 2019, according to a report from StreamElements, which conducts regular reports on the streaming industry with analytics partner Arsenal.gg. Streaming content on Facebook saw a 6% increase in the number of streamers, and a 78& increase in the number of viewers per hour streamed in the same time frame. Facebook has also followed Twitch and YouTube’s strategy by exclusively partnering with top talent, including former Twitch streamer Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, YouTube personality Corinna Kopf, and former UFC champion, Ronda Rousey.
“Facebook Gaming has been making incredible strides as they’ve leveraged their global presence and strategic talent acquisitions to bolster their market share in the live streaming space,” Doron Nir, CEO of StreamElements, said in a statement to The Verge when Rousey’s partnership was announced in February. “By adding Ronda Rousey, a very mainstream celebrity whose into gaming, to their roster, it’s another great move since the content is king, but you need a kingdom to make it matter.”
Twitch got 61% of hours watched in December 2019, followed by YouTube, 28%. In fourth place is Microsoft’s Mixer, which saw just under 3% of all hours spent watching live streams.
New gaming app might help Facebook to stand against Twitch and YouTube’s dominance. Facebook is trying to make it easier for its users to start streaming by adding a “Go Live” button. The function “lets users upload streams of other mobile games on the same device by pressing a few buttons,” according to the Times. Once people are live, streams will appear on their personal pages, making it easier for friends and followers to watch. Like YouTube and Twitch, Facebook also offers monetization to its streamers. Similar to Twitch and YouTube, Facebook’s “Level Up” is designed to allow content creators to monetize.
“People are watching streams and they’re like, ‘I want to be a streamer,’ and with Go Live it’s literally just a few clicks and then live, you’re a streamer,” Vivek Sharma, Facebook’s vice president for gaming, told the Times.