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Facebook’s dedicated Gaming app is now live on Android, months before its planned June release.A new “Go Live” feature is also coming

To the current streaming platforms, Twitch and YouTube don’t have much competition when it comes to providing gaming streams for the gaming community, but Facebook wants to change that with their new dedicated mobile gaming app. The social media giant pushed the app out two months prior to its scheduled unveiling amid a global pandemic that’s left people all over the world isolated at home, rapidly burning through entertainment options.

Facebook’s gaming app will largely curate and focus on the streaming community, though focusing on casual games that people might have already played online such as Words with Friends, according to the New York Times. The app, which is set to be introduced on April 20th, will also reportedly only be available on Android devices at first. The company has plans to release the app for iOS devices once “Apple approves them.”

With Facebook Gaming’s continued growth, and the current increase in viewership and streaming as a whole while people are stuck at home during the pandemic, the company feels like now is the perfect time to launch the app. It was originally supposed to launch in June, according to the Times, but Facebook moved it up to meet current demand.

“Investing in gaming, in general, has become a priority for us because we see gaming as a form of entertainment that really connects people. Its entertainment that’s not just a form of passive consumption but entertainment that is interactive and brings people together.” – said Fidji Simo, the head of the Facebook app while speaking to the New York Times.

Facebook has invested in gaming for years, and has tried to build up its streaming community by partnering with different creators and hosting esports tournaments. Despite Facebook’s large user base — more than 2.5 billion people use Facebook every month — it still lags behind Twitch and YouTube (owned by Amazon and Google, respectively) when it comes to hours of gameplay watched.

According to a report shared by StreamElements, a streaming software company, Facebook saw a 120 percent growth in hours watched between December 2018 and 2019. Furthermore, it witnessed a six percent increase in the number of streamers and a 78% increase in the average number of viewers per hour streamed in the same timeframe.

“Facebook Gaming has been making incredible strides as they’ve leveraged their global presence and strategic talent acquisitions to bolster its market share in their live streaming space. By adding Ronda Rousey, a very mainstream celebrity whose into gaming, to their roster, it’s another great move since the content is king, but you need a kingdom to make it matter.”– said Doron Nir, CEO of StreamElements.

Twitch and YouTube still dominate the industry, though. Twitch commanded 61 percent of hours watched in December 2019, with YouTube maintaining another 28 percent of the market. In fourth place is Microsoft’s Mixer, which saw just under three percent of all hours spent watching livestreams.

New tools might help Facebook chip away at Twitch and YouTube’s dominance. Facebook is trying to make it easier for its users to start streaming by adding a “Go Live” button. The function “lets users upload streams of other mobile games on the same device by pressing just a few buttons,” according to the Times. Once people are live, streams will appear on their personal pages, making it easier for friends and followers to watch. Like YouTube and Twitch, Facebook does offer monetization to some of its streamers. Similar to Twitch’s affiliate status and YouTube’s Partner Program, Facebook’s “Level Up” is designed to allow content creators to monetize.

Vivek Sharma, Facebook’s vice president for gaming said, People are watching streams and they’re like, ‘I want to be a streamer.’ And with Go Live its literally just a few clicks and then, you’re a streamer.”

Source: The New York Times

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