Facebook’s bid to conquer gaming is about to get a dedicated home. The social media giant told the New York Times it’s releasing a Facebook Gaming mobile app on April 20th (that’s tomorrow, if you’re reading in time). It’ll include some casual games to play as well as community functions, but the focus will primarily be on watching and creating game livestreams. You can both catch up with streamers and use a Go Live feature to stream mobile games (not just those in the app) through your Facebook page.
There won’t be any ads. Instead, Facebook is currently relying on viewer “stars” (akin to bits in Twitch) to make money.
The app will initially be available for Android. An iOS version will be available once Apple approves it, Facebook said. It didn’t say how broadcasting would work on iOS devices, though. App Store policies may bar Facebook from streaming footage from third-party apps. Facebook has been testing versions of the app in Latin America and Southeast Asia for the past 18 months.
It’s no secret as to why Facebook is rolling out this app: it wants a larger stake in livestreaming, and it’s betting that dedicated software will help. The company may need the boost. While Facebook has been poaching top streamers, Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet data suggests it’s still struggling to grow compared to Twitch and YouTube. This may draw attention to game streams where earlier efforts (such as the Gaming tab) have fallen short.
Whether or not it works is uncertain. Remember, YouTube shuttered its dedicated gaming app in 2019 after four years. There’s no guarantee that a gaming-specific app will help. And despite key deals, Twitch still dominates both in terms of viewers and the number of big-name streamers. Facebook may have trouble gaining share if its Amazon-owned rival still has most of the creators people want to watch.