Facebook is set to release the first version of its own live-streaming app for gaming today, as The New York Times first spotted yesterday. Facebook Gaming was meant to be released this June, but the company has moved up the release to capitalize upon the current push for live entertainment while people are stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Investing in gaming in general has become a priority for us because we see gaming as a form of entertainment that really connects people,” said Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook App at Facebook. “It’s entertainment that’s not just a form of passive consumption but entertainment that is interactive and brings people together.
Facebook says 700 million of its users have engaged with gaming content on the site, though it’s unclear how many of those users do so regularly. Facebook Gaming did see a small increase in usage in 2019 — up two percent in its market share, tying it in last place with Microsoft’s Mixer platform.
It’s obvious that Facebook looked to Twitch’s contemporary success and said “we want a piece of that pie.” It’s much too late for the company to catch up to Twitch’s enormous share of the market — but Facebook may yet be able to carve out a niche in amateur gaming.