There have been rumblings in the media over the past few days that Facebook is about to shake up the gaming market. What’s it all about? Is Facebook even relevant in the gaming market, and for whom?
News and tech magazines are buzzing with features about “Facebook on gaming offensive”.
Only dedicated gaming magazines (special interest), both from the B2C and B2B sectors, such as PC Gamers, GameStar, GamesWirtschaft, IGN or Game Informer, held back noticeably and either did not cover the topic at all or, like GamesMarkt, published a short, factual report. Actually, Facebook only published a comfortable app for their Game Streaming Hub, which was already introduced in 2018 and can be reached in the browser under FB.gg. The app gives mobile users convenient access to the service, summarizes the features clearly, and simplifies and expands the offer. The launch has been a success so far. By April 29, 2020, more than 50,000 users had installed the app and rated it with an average of 4.5 stars – which is remarkable for a new start. We have received several inquiries about this at Ranieri Gaming – here is a short summary of the current state of affairs…
Two worlds: Facebook Gaming in the browser and on mobile devices
Facebook Gaming is the name of the app that was released for Android mobile devices on April 19, 2020. For the Apple App Store, Facebook is still waiting for Apple’s approval. This hasty launch is no coincidence, the app was actually planned for June 2020, but since the times for both playing, streaming and watching games seem to be especially good (after all, almost everyone is sitting at home), they were reticent to miss this slot and began to promote under the hashtag #playaparttogether, issued by the WHO.
The actual Facebook area, where you can watch or publish game content and follow certain streamers or content, was launched by Facebook as early as 2018. Last year, the social network integrated Facebook Gaming as an easily accessible tab within the regular app on all smartphones and tablets, accessible in Germany under the “Games” item in the main menu of every user.
On the PC or laptop, on the other hand, the browser under the “Games” item only offers a large selection of the most popular mobile games from chess to MOBA to Barbie Fashionistas, but no streaming options. To access streaming games content, you have to navigate to the separate website facebook.gg or fb.gg for short.
What’s up with the Facebook Gaming App?
So far….so confusing. So what does Facebook want to achieve and what role does the April launch of the Facebook Gaming App play?
Streaming games content, i.e. “uploading” and commenting on one’s own gaming experience, has long been a billion-dollar business. The market is shared by the top dogs Twitch and Youtube with impressive market shares of 61 and 28 percent (figures 2019). Facebook has grown by a respectable 100 percent in the last twelve months, but with a manageable 8.5 percent, it has fallen back to third place. The fourth place is occupied, somewhat surprisingly for many, by Microsoft’s hopefully launched service Mixer with a market share of only 2.6 percent. Despite expensive star transfers (e.g. the streamer Ninja, switched from Twitch to Mixer at the end of 2019, annual income at Twitch 10,000,000 dollars; what Mixer offered is only rumored to be known), the streaming offering of the global corporation is thus a veritable flop so far.
Understandably, Facebook now wants a bigger piece of the pie. That is why they are making the services for playing, watching and streaming more accessible and combining them into one app. However, it can only be used to play or stream the mobile versions of popular core games like PUBG, Call of Duty and League of Legends (LoL). On the other hand, all PC and console streams can also be viewed. Streaming from these platforms is still only possible via fb.gg.
Streaming world domination – can it succeed?
For those who play casually or mobile gamers and who are not keen on hardware configurations, the Facebook Gaming App can be an easy shortcut on the way to your first own stream on the Internet. And since the Facebook Gaming Community still seems to be quite manageable compared to Twitch or YouTube, some may even calculate better chances on the way to eternal fame or at least a first monetization partnership via Facebook’s partner program Facebook Gaming Creator Program to earn money with their gaming content. Since the offer is quite low-threshold ….
Given the huge user base – 2.5 billion people visit Facebook every month – the growth opportunities for the in-house gaming sector and its community seem almost endless. The promised land for streamers, publishers and advertisers…? Perhaps, because core gaming and other nerd communities tick according to their own rules and values. Easy accessibility is welcome, but in case of doubt, it’s not nearly as important as the good feeling of belonging to the right, authentic community of like-minded people in an environment geared towards maximum interaction and transparency. When it comes to the community aspect and the credibility of the platform, Twitch is still not fooling anyone, and that will remain for some time to come.
However, for those looking to target groups outside the core Twitch universe; young, fresh, fast-growing target groups – Facebook Gaming, with its facets from core to casual plus the synergy effects with the main app, is an exciting option worth at least investigating.