COVID-19 is being held responsible for major upheavals in the world – the decimation of the travel industry, massive unemployment rates, new norms of social interactions and political discord. During this time of uncertainty, people are looking for casino sign up bonus entertainment options to quell their unease and provide some relaxation - good for everyone that Grande Vegas is up and running as if there were no coronavirus.
The gaming industry has seen tremendous growth during the era of coronavirus, both in the area of video gaming, online casino gambling and esports competitions. Facebook is now jumping on the bandwagon with a new gaming app that, it believes, will allow it to grow its presence in the world of online gaming.
A Facebook spokesperson said the "accelerated" launch was a direct response to the Covid-19 lockdown. The app enables viewers to watch live gaming streams, follow high-profile gamers and games and leave comments on the action, all without connecting to any other Facebook activity.
The app lets users follow high-profile gamers broadcast their own smartphone screen while they play, watch live gaming streams and leave comments, all without the need to interact with the rest of Facebook. In recent months Facebook has found itself competing against YouTube and Twitch in the popular esports and online gaming streaming market and now the competition is heating up as YouTube and Mixer (a Microsoft product) fund franchises and players who then turn to them for their streaming broadcasts.
Until recently, Facebook gaming was accessible via a tab on the user’s FB main profile page. Now it’s accessible as a stand-alone app that takes the user straight to a dedicated website. Facebook says that the goal is to provide users with a “focused, gaming-only experience for people who want deeper access".
Launch of the app, which had been beta-tested in Latin American and Asia for about 18 months, was pushed ahead by the upsurge in demand for gaming after the coronavirus pandemic hit. The app is available at the Google Play app store – an Apple iOS version is scheduled to launch in the near future.
Users click on a tab inside the app to play any of Facebook’s “instant games.” There’s no need to install separate software. After clicking on the app, the user can “go live” on Facebook from the app and broadcast the mobile device’s display of his/her game. The gameplay can thus be streamed directly with no need for any additional download. While following various streaming gaming sessions users will be able to comment on live gameplay and interact with other players and with Facebook groups.
In bringing the various functions together, FB users enjoy a gaming experience that’s different from the live-streaming-only apps. Piers Harding-Rolls, Research Director for games at Ampere Analysis explains that "Facebook's approach is to democratize the streaming process, meaning any user can go live with a stream very easily." Harding-Rolls believes that this will give Facebook an advantage in markets where mobile gaming predominates including the markets of Southeast Asia and China.
Vivek Sharma, vice president of Facebook Gaming, says that “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." The company reports that five million users installed the app during its test run Asia and Latin America and that 700 million people have interacted with Facebook gaming products.
Harding-Rolls advises Facebook to be prepared for both the advantages and the disadvantages of the project. He says that a strategy that involves a dedicated app "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…..it is also a user-acquisition funnel for consumers that might not be interested in the Facebook app, including young consumers."
Facebook was once one of the most popular gaming platforms but that was a decade ago when FarmVille and CandyCrush were dominant forces in the online gaming world. Now Facebook is prepared to get back into the game (pun intended) by appealing to the game streaming market. Streamlabs reports that its research shows that Facebook is just behind Twitch and YouTube in total hours watched. They believe that, by allowing viewers to watch FB gaming streaming via the Facebook app, users will be more likely to engage in other Facebook products.
The Go Live function enables users to upload other mobile game streams and then share them to others’ FB pages so it becomes easier for people to stream themselves. Facebook’s Sharma, says “There are a lot of people who listen to music and say, ‘I can imagine myself being a musician. People are watching streams and they’re like, ‘I want to be a streamer,’ and with Go Live it’s literally just a few clicks and then live, you’re a streamer.”
Sharma says that Facebook’s app is more user-friendly than some of the other options. Twitch involves downloads of software and other apps have their own distractions. “We don’t want to be the background window in a Chrome tab while someone is doing their homework or doing something else. With mobile, if you have the app open and you’re using the app, it’s in the foreground. You can’t do anything else on your mobile phone, and that is extremely powerful.”
Currently there’s no advertising within the app – Facebook is monetizing the app by taking a commission when viewers send stars” (sums of money) to streamers. Once the company builds its gaming audience, it will look for other ways to monetize.
Since the beginning of the year, when the first coronavirus lockdowns were put into place, game-streaming viewership has increased by at least 10% worldwide. But competition for streaming users had started to grow even before the shelter-at-home instructions were put into place. Microsoft partnered with Ninja, the world’s most followed streaming service, in August 2019 and in January 2020 YouTube bought the rights to the Call of Duty and Overwatch League esports tournaments. Facebook also recently released a gaming tournaments feature that lets amateurs organize their own esports competitions.
In pushing the launch of the Facebook Gaming mobile app forward, the company is banking on the fact that much of the world is ordered or encouraged to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. The $160 billion global games business is increasing and, Facebook believes, now’s the time to reach out to people who are sheltering at home and are looking for more engaging and more interactive entertainment options to keep themselves busy and entertained.
Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook gaming app’s development, comments that “Investing in gaming in general has become a priority for us because we see gaming as a form of entertainment that really connects people. It’s entertainment that’s not just a form of passive consumption but entertainment that is interactive and brings people together….we’re seeing a big rise in gaming during quarantine.”