Facebook introduces new gaming app to rival YouTube

With many people around the world urged to stay at home to curb the spread of COVID-19, the $160bn global gaming industry is expanding and Facebook want its piece of the cake. It will try to do so with the launch of a dedicated free mobile app called Facebook Gaming worldwide, made for building and watching live gameplay.

This is probably company's most decisive move when it comes to the video gaming business. The app is completely free and caps several years of Facebook's investment, having said that more than 700 million of its 2.5 billion monthly users have already been engaging with gaming content. The new app is designed for watching and creating live gameplay, competing with Amazon's Twitch, Microsoft's Mixer and Google's YouTube. As a downside, however, it will reportedly only be available on Android devices at first. The company has plans to release the app for iOS devices once "Apple approves them."

Facebook had initially planned to release the gaming app in June but had to change its plans as nations across the world continue to observe social distancing and lockdowns, in line with instructions given by the World Health Organisation. Speaking to New York Times, Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app has also added that the pandemic has forced the company to speed up other gaming projects as well including a new tournament feature since they could "help people stay connected during the coronavirus lockdowns."

“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 Simo, adding that entertainment is not just a form of passive consumption but entertainment that is interactive and brings people together. 

It is important to say, however, that this is not the first time Facebook is taking a dive into the gaming world. About 10 years ago, the company was a leading gaming platform during the FarmVille gaming era. Not quite long, the social media giant also announced a new feature called Tournaments on its platform. The feature allows users to create, join, or follow live gaming tournaments, which will also have an integrated charity tool. Since the tournaments are integrated into the Facebook Gaming service itself, users will now be able to host the tournament and stream them at the same time.

"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," Vivek Sharma, Facebook's gaming vice president said.

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