Facebook’s Gaming App: Merging the Worlds of Gaming and Social Media

Maia Clinch Maia Clinch, Product Specialist

The worlds of gaming and social media have, for the most part, been quite separate. Facebook is trying to change this, having recently released its own dedicated gaming app. This is actually part of a larger trend where the formerly distinct worlds of gaming and social media are merging.

Introducing the Facebook Gaming App
Facebook’s Gaming app was released on Android a few days ago, with an iOS version soon to come. Games, of course, are not new to Facebook. Early in its history, the site created several casual games such as Farmville and Words With Friends. You can access many games from the Facebook Game tab. According to Game Hunters, which tracks the most popular games, the biggest hits on Facebook right now include Texas Holdem Poker, 8 Ball Pool and Candy Crush Saga. Despite the large number of games available on Facebook, the site has never considered a major gaming platform. A dedicated app takes Facebook’s involvement with gaming to another level.

Some of the features offered on Facebook’s Gaming app include live streaming, allowing players to compete against one another globally. There is also a Game Discovery tab that suggests games based on your friends’ habits, and a chat platform. Such features will allow the Gaming app will be able to tap into Facebook’s massive user base allowing players to connect with both existing and new friends. Facebook lists three main advantages of the app:

  • Watch – Users can access streaming videos of your favorite game. You can enjoy seeing the top players in action or record your own games. While Facebook users can access gaming streams currently, the app will make it easier.
  • Play Instant Games – Players can start a game from anywhere without having to download anything.
  • Connect – Join in gaming groups and meet new players. Invite your Facebook friends to play games.

A site such as Facebook, in theory, can make gaming more popular as most users already have fairly large networks of friends with whom they can play. At the same time, there are plenty of existing gaming communities so hardcore gamers may not feel they need another platform.

Other Social Media Gaming Apps
One of Facebook’s motives for releasing its own Gaming app was to keep up with competitors. In particular, YouTube and TikTok who have been aggressively reaching out to gamers in recent months. Twitch, meanwhile, has long been a favorite among gamers.

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms. The China-based platform specializes in very short videos. However, TikTok has recently been getting into the gaming space in a big way. While the site’s gaming offerings are still in the early stages, there are plans for complex multiplayer games. Considering TikTok’s rapidly expanding global reach, even one successful and addictive game would help the site to grow even faster.

Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, is another streaming platform that features gaming. Twitch, which offers a variety of streaming video content, was actually started as a gaming platform. Twitch is popular among many hardcore gaming enthusiasts. Some of its most popular games include League of Legends, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Minecraft. Recently, Twitch has gotten better known among non-gamers by releasing more TV shows, music, and other content. This, in turn, might turn even more users on to its gaming offering.

YouTube has also made inroads into gaming with mixed results. YouTube released its own gaming app a few years ago, only to discontinue it in 2018. This does not mean, however, that YouTube isn’t focusing on gaming. On the contrary, the video-sharing site features a large variety of live streaming options for gamers. In a Mashable article, YouTube’s global head of gaming Ryan Wyatt is quoted as saying that viewers watched 50 billion hours of gaming content in a year while 200 million users watch gaming content daily.

While social media sites such as Facebook aren’t known primarily for gaming, the gaming world has always been a kind of alternative social media of its own. With the exception of solo games such as Solitaire, gaming is inherently a social activity. Aside from the ones already mentioned, there are a number of very popular gaming platforms, including:

  • PlayStation Network
  • Xbox Live
  • Nintendo Network
  • Steam

Why Did Facebook Release a Gaming App?
Facebook chose a good time to release its gaming app. According to TechCrunch, the app was released earlier than originally planned because of the COVID19 lockdown when so many people are stuck at home and spending more time than ever online. This, however, only speaks to the timing of the app’s release. Facebook has been planning the Gaming app for quite some time.

Facebook has some catching up to do if it wants to become a serious gaming platform. According to Digital Trends, Twitch and YouTube together control 90% of the online gaming market. Although Twitch and other gaming sites are quite popular among gamers, they don’t command the overall popularity of Facebook. This app has the potential to bridge the gap between the gaming and social media worlds.

Internet companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google are all trying to create all-inclusive platforms that provide for so many needs that users hardly have to log off. Even the most ardent gamers most likely use Facebook. If they can be convinced to download the new Gaming app, Facebook might be able to keep them from logging on to competitors’ platforms. On the other hand, the gaming community is a subculture that is hard to please.

Over the last few years, Facebook has been challenged with some stiff competition. Some of its rivals are fellow giants YouTube/Google, Twitch/Amazon and the quickly rising TikTok. Each of these platforms actually competes with Facebook in areas far more wide-reaching than games. No matter how much time people spend online, their time and attention are limited. If they’re watching videos on YouTube or TikTok, they are spending less