The world of video game streaming has officially welcomed a new and fierce participant. In advance of the initially scheduled times Facebook has decided to launch its platform dedicated to streamers, Facebook Gaming. It is a service connected to the main platform, but with a separate app, currently only available on Android.
A new Twitch in short, it has appeared on the horizon, ready to have its say in a world where competition is becoming increasingly ruthless. Will Zuckerberg be able to get the best out of his new toy or will he have to settle for crumbs?
Facebook Gaming has been a rather large section of the main social network for some years. Inside there are a series of small free games, simple in form and content. The new app is nothing more than a much more important enactment of this service which, in addition to allowing users to play, will also make it create real content that can be seen, supported and commented on by everyone else. All these options, already widely present in the basic version on the main portal, have been made even more important in the new app, which will base almost all its operation on this mechanic.
The idea has been tested for more than a year in some selected countries and has now officially landed on Android, ahead of the initial plans. In short, the Coronavirus emergency hastened the company's plans, ready, in these times of isolation, to exploit a probably greater audience and to offer everyone an extra service to be able to play and watch play.
What it is
The new app is nothing more than a video game platform that offers the same functions as competitors, much more experienced, like YouTube and Twitch, for years bright lights in the world of streaming video games. In short, content creators will have another platform to be able to play live in front of their virtual audience which, as tradition, will have the opportunity to intervene live with comments or real demonstrations of financial support through donations.
Each user will have his page, each streamer his profile from which to immediately start a live event and each game will have its own dedicated page that will facilitate the search for the event and its diffusion for the purpose of the various communities. The platform will not have any type of advertisement, with Facebook that will monetize everything by taking a percentage on donations that subscribers will do to their favorite streamers.
Games for everyone
The main dish of the service as we have known it until now has almost always been the Instant Games, a fairly large catalog of casual games rather simple in form and content, that everyone can try and that often peeps through our notifications. These are almost always small, light and impromptu pastimes, within everyone's reach, especially those who habitually do not play continuously but only like to spend a little free time lightly.
Inside you can find almost everything, from sports games to quizzes, through card games, logic games or simple puzzle games. Small pastimes that have created a community from beyond 700 million monthly hits, a mouth of fire that Facebook wants to try to exploit to launch its new service. The ability to make direct and participate in it has always been present within the service but now, with the new app, it will take on a preponderant role like never before.
From the beginning the platform offered services that users have always appreciated and had become, albeit in its small way, a real autonomous section within the main social. Even though it was part of the Facebook mobile application, it had already been equipped for a long time with a news feed customized according to its most played titles, the direct matches, the groups to which it belongs and the streamers that follow. Now it has only been decided to give greater autonomy to the whole, making it perfectly integrated with the main social network: any direct initiation can in fact be shared also on the main platform.
According to the company's leaders, they were simply following the requests of users, who had long been asking for a separate app for Gaming. Now everything should be much faster and faster, allowing everyone to "streamm" or play with maximum intuitiveness. You can even, through a simple option, start a direct snapshot of any game installed on your smartphone, shortening the times even more and exponentially increasing the possibilities of creating content and interacting with your own community of members.
Facebook focuses so much on the video games sector, yet another piece of a differentiation of services and useful content to allow users to stay as much as possible within the platform. Now that the social network in itself is no longer enough, it has been decided to increase loyalty through other services, with gaming that has long become one of the main objectives of this strategy. In recent years, important figures have been invested in the sector, between platform improvements and partnerships with well-known and loved streamers.
The same app, in recent times, has shown quite wide growth margins, with a + 78% of spectators on average in the last part of 2019. In absolute numbers Gaming is still quite far from the success of YouTube and Twitch, but that of online gaming is a battle in which Zuckerberg does not want to lose further ground, trying to have his say against the Google and Amazon platforms and aiming as always everything on its name and on the strength of its increasingly large and varied ecosystem.
A long path
The road ahead is still quite long and today, if you look closely at the numbers, Facebook Gaming is only a small niche of enthusiasts, capable of gaining strength with the name of the brand it carries but with a community that is not as loyal as that of its competitors. Casual players are numerous, but the real challenge will be to turn them into an active and participatory community, which in addition to playing must spend time following others in the service. In December 2019 the total share of hours watched in streaming for video games 61% belonged to Twitch and 28% to Youtube: carving out a space will be difficult and complicated, but the conviction of the leaders is that interactive streaming, especially in the gaming field, is the key to connecting the members of the future.
Integrating everything on Facebook is a move that wants to demonstrate, once again, how much the Zuckerberg company is interested in playing a part for the next few years, not remaining fossilized on its glorious past but trying to have its say even in those services where others are better and present for much longer.