- Facebook today will introduce a standalone app for livestreamed gaming content, the New York Times reported. Facebook Gaming marks the social network's more concerted effort to take on Amazon's Twitch, Google's YouTube and Microsoft's Mixer in the growing market for gaming videos.
- Facebook Gaming has a mix of casual games and access to gaming communities, but its key feature is a Go Live button that lets people see streams of other mobile games. The Android version of the app is available on Google Play, and the iOS version will be in the App Store as soon as Apple approves it, the Times reported.
- Facebook had planned to release the livestreaming app in June, but sped up those plans as lockdowns led to a surge in social media usage. The social networking giant in the past 18 months tested Facebook Gaming in Southeast Asia and Latin America, the Times reported.
Facebook's release of Facebook Gaming comes as people boost their consumption of digital media while being stuck at home during the pandemic. It's crucial that the social network expand its presence now in the livestreaming market amid surging demand, or face greater hurdles competing with Twitch, YouTube Gaming and Microsoft Mixer. The platforms are all vying for attention by expanding their programming and signing exclusive streaming deals with gaming influencers who have dedicated followings.
Even before the lockdowns, Facebook showed signs of surging consumption for gaming content after starting Facebook Gaming as a section of its app in 2018. More than 700 million of its users have played games, watched gaming videos or engaged in gaming groups on Facebook, per a blog post. The social network boosted viewing times of gaming livestreams by 210% from a year earlier, outpacing the growth of Twitch, Gaming and Mixer, per a study by StreamElements and Arsenal.gg. Facebook Gaming expanded its share of livestreaming to 8.5% from 3.1% a year earlier, maintaining its spot as the No. 3 platform, the research showed.
Facebook has had mixed success with standalone apps, although the popularity of its social network among 2.45 billion people has helped to popularize other platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. The company can parlay that strength into cross promotions for Facebook Gaming, and expand ad revenue among game developers that promote their wares in Google Play and the App Store.
That can help set the stage for future growth as the social networking giant faces shorter-term pressures while advertisers cut back media spending during the pandemic. The duopoly of Google and Facebook together may see their revenue drop by as much as $44 billion this year amid the pullback, per Cowen & Co. analyst estimates reported in Variety. However, the firm said it expects both companies to stay profitable despite the slides in revenue.