Facebook launched a dedicated gaming app in an effort to capitalize on an increase in the number of people watching video stream.
The social media company originally planned a June release for its Facebook Gaming app, but rushed its app to mobile stores earlier as people seek entertainment while isolation restrictions remain in place.
“The Facebook Gaming app is a focused-only gaming experience where you can watch your favorite streamers, play instant games, and participate in game groups,” the company said in a publication.
In its first week, the app racked up over 5 million downloads from the Google Play Store.
Facebook Gaming’s viewership still appears to be low – especially compared to its biggest competitor, Twitch.tv – with top streamers hitting below 10,000 viewers while top talent on Twitch regularly having over 100,000 people. to watch.
For Facebook, a dedicated gaming app keeps people in its online ecosystem of messaging, marketplace, news and social media apps.
But the app is also grabbing attention, as Facebook vice president of games Vivek Sharma told the New York Times.
“We don’t want to be the background window in a Chrome tab while someone is doing homework or doing something else,” Sharma said.
“With mobile, if the app is open and you use the app, it is in the foreground. You can’t do anything else on your cell phone, and it’s extremely powerful.
Facebook Gaming is currently only available for Android as Facebook announced its release before the app received approval from Apple for iOS.
Big players in the game
Despite a low number of viewers, Facebook’s share of video game streaming increased dramatically over the past year, gaining a huge 210 percent more hours watched on the platform in December 2019 compared to 2018.
Twitch still holds the lion’s share of the streaming market, with over 60% of streaming hours watched at the end of last year – although that number has slowly declined as more major players enter. in the game of streaming.
In the years since Amazon bought Twitch for nearly US $ 1 billion in 2014, the big tech giants followed their lead in the gaming market.
Along with their competing streaming websites, big tech companies have struggled to attract viewers and users to their services that seem to offer more or less the same thing: a place to watch and interact with other people playing games. video games.
Mixer took on two of Twitch’s biggest names last year, poaching Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek to stream games exclusively on the Microsoft platform for an undisclosed sum of money.
The pair is now made almost a fifth Mixer views.