When you think about Facebook and video games, you might still be thinking Farmville, online Poker, and other mindless entertainment. However, Facebook has grown far beyond that. In fact, Facebook is quietly working to change the entire video game industry!
Don’t worry: you won’t have to give up all your personal data to Mark Zuckerburg in order to learn more. This complete guide has everything you need to know.
The Rise of Facebook Gaming
How do you watch other gamers play? Most gamers use platforms such as Twitch or YouTube. However, the field is getting pretty crowded, especially with companies like Microsoft (and its Mixer platform) entering the fray.
Then again, the field isn’t too crowded for Facebook. The social media giant has created Facebook Gaming, and this is slowly becoming the preferred option for streamers and audiences alike.
This newer platform has a number of features and options outlined further below. With this information, you can decide if it’s time to ditch the Twitch and switch!
The obvious advantage of Facebook Gaming is that it takes advantage of an existing platform. With Twitch or Mixer, a new streamer must struggle to gather an initial audience. With Facebook, it’s very easy for someone to invite their existing friends and family to join them.
Facebook also provides superior options to grow that audience (more on this in a minute). But their big claim to fame so far is the ease of getting started. If you already have Facebook and a friends list, then you’re more than halfway to becoming a streamer on the world’s most famous social media platform.
Growing the Audience
Once a streamer builds an initial audience, they face the same challenge that every entrepreneur eventually faces. They need to find a way to grow that audience.
Facebook makes this relatively easy by allowing streamers to use their existing social media features. For example, it’s easy to join, create, or communicate with groups all over the world. And once a streamer wins over a new fan, it’s easy for them to share announcements and events with their own friends list. This creates word-of-mouth marketing — the most persuasive form of marketing.
The Level Up Program
The existing Facebook social media features are a great way to grow an audience. But what if an aspiring streamer doesn’t really know about the other aspects of getting started? That’s where the Level Up Program comes in.
This program provides direct support from Facebook on how to get started and become a successful streamer. It also offers streamers some special features that include 1080p and 60fps transcoding.
There are also some enhanced social features. With access to Facebook Stars, these Level Up streamers can make money from fan donations. And with enhanced networking opportunities, new streamers can learn from veterans and learn how to draw in even more fans.
Time will tell how successful the program will be. But it’s pretty cool that Facebook is willing to put so much support behind this gaming initiative.
Working the Long Game
The short-term goals of Facebook Gaming seem pretty straightforward. As with Mixer and other rival platforms, Facebook hopes to lure famous streamers away from Twitch. Recently, they managed to get Jeremy Wang (better known as DisguisedToast) to sign an exclusive Facebook streaming agreement.
In the long run, though, Facebook won’t be content to poach existing talent. Instead, they’ll want to create their own star streamers. By creating future e-gaming celebrities, Facebook hopes to change the streaming game entirely.
Facebook is not content to simply work with streamers. They are also making leaps and strides in the world of virtual reality gaming.
It all started when Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion in 2014. More recently, in December they acquired Beat Games (the makers of the surprise VR hit Beat Saber).
We haven’t yet seen the full extent of what Facebook will do with the VR technology they are working on. If their strategy pays off, Facebook is going to have their cake and eat it too: they will develop hit video games while creating the streaming stars that help to promote Facebook’s endeavors.
Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming
The key to any major investment is diversity. And Facebook has diversified their gaming investment by pursuing yet another avenue: cloud-based gaming.
In December, Facebook acquired PlayGiga, a cloud gaming company based out of Madrid. Its specialty is creating cloud gaming services that take advantage of 5G cellular technology.
It looks like the writing is on the wall: Facebook, like Google and Microsoft, hopes to emerge as the leader of cloud-based gaming.
Quite the Gamble
To put it mildly, Facebook is a controversial company. But you have to give it to them: they are taking a hell of a gamble on gaming.
Facebook Gaming may look like a no-brainer for an existing social media platform. But the truth is that the public is not going to flock to several different streaming sites. So far, Twitch has remained king, so it’s entirely possible Facebook is throwing away a ton of money.
And while VR is exciting to play, it has failed to captivate modern audiences in sufficient numbers. Furthermore, cloud gaming sounds good on paper, the frustrating launch of Google Stadia proves that both technological and consumer support may not be ready to give up their consoles and PCs.
Gamers can only wait and see. But if Facebook Gaming is successful, don’t be surprised when Tom from MySpace makes his move into gaming!