Facebook’s new gaming initiative isn’t likely to take out Twitch, but its a big move for the company with huge potential.
The gaming industry is booming. More games are being sold, played — and more importantly for companies like Twitch — streamed than ever before. For Twitch, the boom has been profitable. Gamers flock to the Amazon-owned site like travel influencers flock to Instagram. But, the company may soon be facing some serious competition from Facebook. The social media giant, which first launched a gaming creator pilot program at the start of the year, announced several updates today that could strengthen its position in the gaming community.
A Facebook for Gamers
Facebook has introduced a new gaming video destination on its platform (available at fb.gg). The new destination mimics the look and feel of a regular Facebook feed, except everything generated on the feed is gaming related. Scrolling through the section, a Facebooker will find gaming related posts including memes, live streams, pictures, videos, and any other gaming related content posted to the site.
Level Up Program
The company also announced a new program for emerging creators called Level Up. The new program is intended to help gaming creators achieve their dreams of making a living through streaming. The program will give creators information and tools to jumpstart their communities on Facebook and (this is the important part) earn money for their work. Level Up members will be able to earn money through Facebook Stars — a subscription feature announced in January. Additionally, these members will receive early access to new features, best practices from established gaming creators and customized access to Facebook support for troubleshooting and bug reporting.
The Level Up Program and the new gaming destination, address one of the main issues that emerging gamers are facing on Twitch: discoverability. The gaming-focused social platform has hundreds of career gamers profiting from the platform, but for every one successful gamer, there is a group of streamers struggling to attract one viewer. For example, a video recently went viral on Reddit in which a gamer claimed that after streaming on Twitch for three years at 5-6 hours a day, he acquired little to no views or subs. And he isn’t the only one. One look scroll through Twitch’s live-streams and hundreds of streams with 0-5 viewers can be found.
John Imah, Facebook’s Gaming Creator Program Lead and Nick Miller, Product Manager, say they are confident in the new destination’s ability to help emerging gamers get discovered. They point to several key features of the new layout to help with the task, including a “Suggested Live Stream” tab and the destination’s ability to aggregate content based on the user’s past viewing history and interests, which will highlight even up and coming gamers. As for more established creators who already have a strong following on Twitch, the two execs says that streaming on Facebook opens up the gamers to an untapped audience that may never use Twitch, but are interested in gaming. Currently Facebook is home to over 2 billion monthly active users (MAU), while Twitch is home to about 100 million MAUs.
The new additions to Facebook’s gamer offering isn’t going to knock Twitch from its number one spot, but with the video gaming industry expected to reach $20 billion by 2020, holding the number two spot in the market isn’t a bad thing.
“If I’m Facebook, my first goal, similar to when Microsoft entered search late with Bing, is to quickly gain a second position market share behind Twitch given it’s first mover advantage and scaling infrastrucutre of Amazon,” noted Anthony Caponiti, co-founder of Hashtag Sports, a media and innovation thought leadership platform
As Facebook pushes beyond its usual territory, so does Twitch. Over the past 12 months, the company has launched several 24/7 linear channels — which it has dubbed “Always On” channels — with various partners that include programing related to motorcycle culture, martial arts, and extreme fails. The gaming-centric video site has also partnered with companies like The BBC, The Bob Ross Estate, and Crunchyroll to bring a variety of programming to its platform. Just last month, after inking a deal with NBC, the company hosted a marathon of “Saturday Night Live.” Shortly after its “SNL” marathon, the company announced plans to stream 500 episodes of “Doctor Who.”