- Facebook is adding fantasy sports and games that will let users predict what will happen in sports, TV shows and pop culture, the company announced Wednesday (Sept. 1). The new games, called Facebook Fantasy Games, are rolling out first on iOS and Android for users in the U.S. and Canada.
- Available now, the first game is Pick & Play Sports, a daily prediction competition made with Whistle Sports. It lets fans earn points for correctly guessing game winners, points scored by each player or other events during matches. Facebook will release additional games in the coming months, allowing users to forecast outcomes on TV shows including "The Bachelorette" and "Survivor."
- The addition of fantasy games could encourage users to spend more time on Facebook properties and may mark the first step in competing with bigger fantasy sports entities like DraftKings and FanDuel.
Facebook recently has expanded more into gaming in an effort to keep users on its apps. In June, Apple rejected the Facebook Gaming app from its App Store, saying it violates its platform rules. Facebook came back with a workaround, letting iOS users access Facebook Gaming via a web app. Different from the attempt to launch a gaming platform on iOS, Facebook notes that its news this week aims to "bring the social fun of traditional fantasy sports to simpler formats that are easy to play for people new to prediction games."
These new fantasy games offer something different than more traditional gaming offerings — such as racing games or arcade-style competitions — but are perhaps a better fit for the social network. Leaderboards and feed reactions offer social elements for users who want to play with friends. Players also can create a fantasy league with friends to compete with one another, either publicly or privately. League members can compare scores and will have a place to share picks, reactions and comments. Embedding those social elements into the new platform could make it stickier, driving repeat visits as users return to the app to make new predictions and socialize.
Fresh features arrive at a time when Facebook faces major competition in the social media sphere, namely from TikTok. The average monthly time spent per user in TikTok grew faster than other top social apps in 2020, surpassing Facebook, App Annie found.
At the same time, experimenting with fantasy sports leagues may help Facebook compete with bigger players like FanDuel and DraftKings. Facebook had dabbled with the idea of becoming a second screen companion for live events in the past, pushing the social giant to test Venue, a platform for fans to comment on live events that were hosted by well-known personalities.
Facebook has several other gaming investments as well, including its Games tab for streamers, VR company Oculus and yet-to-be revealed plans to refashion itself as a "metaverse company." CEO Mark Zuckerberg indicated the concept — traditionally associated with gaming and describing the growing intersection of digital and physical spaces — will serve as a beacon for Facebook as it works to broaden itself beyond the social media sphere.