Twitch might've been first to the game streaming party, but it's proven profitable enough that other companies want to get in on the action. YouTube has its own YouTube Gaming streaming service, while Microsoft has Mixer. Now it seems that Facebook wants to join in.
Today the social media giant introduced a mobile app called Facebook Gaming. The app will allow users to watch game streams, play casual games, and chat in gaming communities. Facebook is betting on the "Go Live" ability though, which let's users stream their mobile games with just a few taps of a button. Facebook has had video streaming on PC and through the Facebook app for some time now, but this represents a larger focus on gaming specifically.
"Investing in gaming in general has become a priority for us because we see gaming as a form of entertainment that really connects people," said 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 been testing the app over the last 18 months in South America and Southeast Asia, with a launch originally planned for July. The outbreak of the coronavirus has kept folks at home though, with gaming seeing a boost during the quarantine. The situation convinced Facebook to bring the app's launch forward to today.
Facebook Gaming is available now on Android via the Google Play Store, and an iOS version will follow once Apple approves it. There are no ads one the app currently, meaning streamers will make money via "stars". These sound similar to Twitch's Bits, which users on the service buy with real money and then use to "cheer" on streamers.
Facebook is already in the pole position with Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube. According to Streamlabs, Facebook Gaming saw its hours watched triple year-over-year, with hours streamed doubling. Facebook was the third in total hours watched in the first quarter of 2020, with 11 percent of the market share.