Facebook has broadened the scope of its Live platform to accommodate those who stream video games. According to Digital Trends, users of Facebook Live will now be able to stream gameplay footage from their computer directly to Facebook. This is a clear attempt to tap into a market that has already established itself as an entertainment medium.
Some gamers stream their gameplay to services like Twitch or YouTube for amusement. They view it as a fun way to share their game-playing experience with friends. However, some gamers treat streaming as a serious business. The dedicated streamer will spend hundreds of dollars on equipment ranging from top-of-the-line computer systems to play the games on to high-end professional microphones, cameras and green screens. That kind of investment does not happen without the expectation of a return. According to NPR, some streamers spend four to eight hours a day streaming. Some have quit their day jobs and stream video games for a living now.
Facebook has realized that there is money to be made in this new industry and has developed tools that make it easier for gamers to stream footage to Facebook Live. While Twitch may have the upper hand for now in this industry, Facebook has unlimited resources that it can throw into this venture. Plus the social media giant already has a foot in the door.
Most gamers on Twitch, especially the professionals, need a way to promote their feeds. They require a way to contact regular viewers to let them know when they will be streaming and what they will be playing. Almost all of them rely on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out. So Facebook Live is undoubtedly hoping to lure many of those streamers away from Twitch by cutting out the middleman.
Facebook already reaches all of a streamer’s followers and fans. Why not add the ability to just stream on the same service rather than posting to Facebook and directing people to another site. Additionally, when a gamer begins a Facebook Live feed, his or her followers will receive a notification at the time and can just click it to jump into the feed without having to go elsewhere. There are several advantages to the pro gamer for doing it this way. Of course, it is to Facebook’s benefit as well.
Twitch at its core is a free service. Anyone can sign up for an account and watch or stream video games. While it does have a paid subscription aspect for the serious streamers that gives them more functionality and tools, its primary revenue comes from advertising. Usually, each stream is proceeded by a short video ad, and there are banner ads throughout the site as well.
Gamers frequently make money from donations and subscriptions from their followers. Subscribing to a streamer’s feed usually comes with exclusive benefits and privileges like a custom set of emojis or private “members-only” chatrooms. However, more prolific streamers with thousands of followers have cut deals with Twitch to make a portion of the ad revenue generated by their feeds.
According to NPR, “Over 17,000 streamers have a deal with Twitch that gives them a cut from the advertising sold on their streams.”
Facebook has certainly taken this into account. If Twitch generates enough revenue to pay users, there has to be good profit in it, and Facebook Live hopes that it can capitalize on that.
However, it is not as simple as just allowing users to stream content from their computers. Twitch offers many other features that Facebook will have to consider. For example, the main Twitch website allows visitors to browse video game titles and click one of interest. Doing this takes them to a listing of all the streams currently featuring that game. Twitch also allows gamers to start a feed from their PlayStations and Xboxes. These features and others are things that are not currently employed by Facebook Live.
According to Digital Trends, the new streaming tools are only available for those streaming “from their desktop or laptop computers.”
While Facebook might have unlimited resources to throw into a streaming service, Twitch cannot be discounted as the little guy in this industry. NPR points out that Amazon purchased Twitch in 2014 for $970 million. So this “little guy” is backed by a very big player. Facebook Live still has a lot of work ahead if they want to compete with Amazon’s Billion Dollar Baby.
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