Facebook brings forward global launch of gaming app
Facebook has launched a dedicated gaming app in an effort to expand its presence in the market in a period in which it is experiencing significant growth and demand.
The social media giant rolled out its Facebook Gaming Worldwide mobile app this week, which will allow users to create and watch live gameplay.
The gaming app was due to be released in June but Facebook said it “accelerated” its launch as a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures in place in most countries around the world.
Through the app, users will be able to follow gamers, watch live streams and stream directly from their smartphones to Facebook, while being able to comment on the gameplay and interact with Facebook groups.
Users can broadcast mobile gameplay instantly without the need for additional software, as is the case with other platforms, and will have a customised feed of news, updates and conversations from streamers they follow and games they play.
Until now, Facebook’s gaming offering has only been available as a tab on its main app and via an independent website, which was launched last year.
The move will allow Facebook to compete with major players in the industry such as Twitch and YouTube, the dominant online gaming and streaming platforms owned by Amazon and Google respectively.
The Facebook gaming app, which is free of advertising, has been available for testing in Southeast Asia and Latin America over the last 18 months but has now been launched globally.
The company said the new stand-alone app is "a focused, gaming-only experience for people who want deeper access."
The app is initially available on the Google Play app store but the social media network said a version on Apple’s iOS “is in the works.”
Vivek Sharma, vice-president of Facebook Gaming, said: "We are building homes for the many types of gaming communities on and off Facebook. The Facebook Gaming app is a prime example of gaming's resurgence at Facebook over the last few years, and we're just getting started.
"It allows Facebook to position its offering against other live-streaming sites focused on games and helps drive visibility of games content on Facebook, but it requires users to download a dedicated app, which is likely to hamper adoption. But it is also a user-acquisition funnel for consumers that might not be interested in the Facebook app, including young consumers.”
Facebook has claimed it had 5 million installations of the app in selected markets during the 18-month test period, and that over 700 million of its users already interact with the gaming function on its main app.