Facebook has a new app that blends casual gaming with streaming and esports as the social media giant looks to compete with Twitch and YouTube and take a larger piece of the $160 billion game industry.
Facebook describes the app as a “focused, gaming-only experience where you can watch your favourite streamers, play instant games and take part in gaming groups. It’s all of Facebook Gaming in one neat, app-sized package.”
The app is available now on Google Play, where it amassed over 5 million downloads in its first week. An iOS version is coming at a later date.
“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. “It’s entertainment that’s not just a form of passive consumption but entertainment that is interactive and brings people together.”
When it comes to gaming, Facebook currently sits in third place for total hours watched behind YouTube and Twitch.
Most tech-focused media outlets are concerned over the apps apparent broad goal of appealing to everyone. By including casual games and streaming, Facebook is assuming streamers and esports players also engage with Words with Friends, Farmville and the likes, which doesn’t appear to be accurate.
Wired reports that Facebook’s gaming app sits “uncomfortably” between other products. “There are better, more established streaming services out there, and it is just as easy to play Facebook games in the original Facebook app.”
Although those who wouldn’t usually go near Twitch or YouTube for game streaming may be enticed to give it a watch when content sits right beside their regular social games. The Facebook Gaming app also has zero advertising with the company stating that they want to draw a broad audience before looking into other ways of making money.
Wired does go on to say that it’s incredibly easy to stream yourself playing mobile games, and Facebook says it’s continuing to fine-tune the app’s features.