While Twitch and YouTube have long-dominated the game streaming world, there’s a new player in town. Facebook launched its dedicated gaming app ahead of schedule, in a direct response to the COVID-19 lockdown. Launched last Monday on the Google Play store (with an iOS version still to follow), the app is a stand-alone experience that lets you follow gamers and watch live streams — or go live yourself. Until now, Facebook’s gaming features have only been accessible through a tab on the Facebook app, but things are changing.
The new app lets you follow streams and comment on live gameplay, as well as play games from an “instant game” library in the app — there’s no need to install any other software. The “go live” feature lets you broadcast your smartphone screen to stream mobile gameplay directly.
Easy Mobile Streaming
Piers Harding-Rolls, Research Director for games at Ampere Analysis, said that all these functions together:
“…helps it differentiate from other live-streaming only apps.”
“Facebook’s approach is to democratize the streaming process, meaning any user can go live with a stream very easily.”
During the app’s 18-month test-run in Asia and Latin America, 5 million users downloaded and installed the app, but it’s feared the fact a dedicated app has to be downloaded may hamper adoption.
There’s no denying it’s a great time to launch a gaming app, as figures suggest game streaming viewership has increased by at least 10% during the lockdown. But who is the Facebook gaming app actually aimed at — and is it any good?
Too Many Features?
Although the app lets you play games as well as stream and interact with content, it doesn’t do any of these things particularly well. When you install the app, it asks you to select a few favorite games before recommending some streamers to follow. There’s a tab for playing Facebook games, a tab for watching live streams, a tab for messages, and a news feed tab where you can see posts and videos from your gaming groups. Camera buttons at the top and bottom of the main page enable you to live stream from your phone.
What’s the Target Market?
The main issue with this app is that it’s trying to be all things to all people, appealing to the Farmville crowd as well as those who regularly watch League of Legends on Twitch. Sadly, there are better, more established streaming services out there and it’s hard for this app to compete — not to mention you could just play Facebook games in the original app.
Also, isn’t streaming yourself playing mobile games kind of odd? Who does this? Nobody really wants to watch you play Farmville or Words With Friends, and mobile game streaming isn’t nearly as popular as streaming console or PC games. Admittedly, the news feed tab may appeal to gamers fed up of Facebook, who still want updates from gaming groups — they can still get their fix without being on Facebook itself.
If Facebook Gaming’s news feed was entirely dedicated to gameplay clips and gaming memes then great, I’d almost definitely be on board. But right now, this type of content is a little light on the ground, so until then, it’s not an app I’m going to be keeping on my phone.