Social media giant Facebook has launched a dedicated mobile gaming app today (April 20), that will go up against game-streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.
Facebook Gaming primarily focuses on watching and creating game livestreams, but will also include some casual games to play – such as Words With Friends – as well as some community functions, Facebook told The New York Times. One of its highlights is a “Go Live” feature that will allow users to stream their other mobile games, not just the ones offered on Facebook Gaming, through their Facebook page.
The app is currently only available on Android via the Google Play store. Facebook Gaming is free to download, and ad-free for now. An iOS rollout is expected soon, pending Apple’s approval.
Facebook Gaming is set to take on current heavyweights Twitch and YouTube, both of which currently dominate the game streaming market. In December 2019, Twitch commanded 61 per cent of gaming livestreams, while YouTube secured 28 per cent. Facebook came in third with eight per cent, according to The Verge.
Facebook’s VP for Gaming, Vivek Sharma, told NYT that the company is focusing on a mobile app for streaming because the mobile experience is more intense than computer viewing.
“We don’t want to be the background window in a Chrome tab while someone is doing their homework or doing something else,” Sharma said. “With mobile, if you have the app open and you’re using the app, it’s in the foreground. You can’t do anything else on your mobile phone, and that is extremely powerful.”
According to the NYT report, Facebook was initially planning to launch the app in June, and had been testing it in Southeast Asia and Latin America over the last 18 months, but has accelerated its plans due to the booming demand for gaming and streams in the current coronavirus pandemic climate.
Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook Gaming app, said to the NYT: “Investing in gaming in general has become a priority for us because we see gaming as a form of entertainment that really connects people. We’re seeing a big rise in gaming during quarantine.”
In other news, a mobile version of Dead By Daylight has been released on iOS and Android. Dead By Daylight Mobile is free to play, but does feature in-game purchases.