Facebook launches Gaming Creator Pilot Program to directly compete with Twitch and YouTube
Facebook has announced they are launching the Gaming Creator Pilot program to bring videogame streaming to Facebook Live. Facebook believes they can improve on the following areas:
- Building more engaged communities
- Increasing discovery across their various platforms and allowing streamers of all followings an opportunity to get discovered
- Offering sustainable monetization opportunities
This represents a larger push into gaming by Facebook after announcing earlier this month that Facebook has become ESL’s streaming partner for their CS:GO Pro League and ESL One events.
This announcement puts Facebook in direct competition (again) with established streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch as Facebook continues to look for new ways to grow their ad revenue and take advantage of their massive user base. Despite Facebook’s recent struggles that resulted in a major change to the newsfeed that deprioritizes publishers in favor of friends, Facebook is still the leading social media behemoth with over 2+ billion MAU on Facebook, 1+ billion DAU on Whatsapp, and 800+ million MAU on Instagram. This level of reach and potential monetization opportunities will make any streamer consider Facebook as their new streaming platform.
Despite the daunting challenge of taking on market leader Twitch (and YouTube to a lesser but growing extent) here are some specific steps Facebook can take to offer a more compelling streaming experience:
- Creating a native donation system within Facebook- Despite Twitch offering Bits as their official donation platform, PayPal and Patreon still dominate the Twitch/YouTube donation marketplace. As I stated last September in the MR, there is an opportunity here to offer a much more seamless UX donation experience that would increase the number of donations for streamers (by removing current barriers like having to leave the platform, signing into PayPal, etc.) while also providing Facebook with valuable credit card/bank information on their users.
- Eliminating chargebacks from donations- There has been an increase of viewers/trolls donating large sums of money to streamers to get a live shoutout on a stream and then later telling their banks this was a fraudulent purchase. This takes the money back from streamers and also erodes trust in the streamer/viewer relationship.
- Allowing easier discoverability- One of the biggest issues on current streaming platforms for new streamers is trying to break through in a very saturated market. Twitch ranks streams in order of current viewers so whenever new viewers come to watch a specific game they are most likely to view one of the most popular streamers, furthering deep discrepancies in viewership and making it harder for new streamers to make it up from the literal bottom and break through.
- Optimizing chat for friends- The live chat during a stream is almost as entertaining as the stream itself and is a great reflection of the community around these streamers and games. However it can often go so fast and be overwhelming to the point where you can’t read a majority of messages. Given Facebook’s dominance in messaging, they have a clear advantage in building an additional chat experience (to complement the current community chat) that allows users to discuss a stream with just their friends.
- Utilizing Facebook Messenger Bots- Facebook has done an excellent job creating an ecosystem for developers to build bots on top of Facebook Messenger. If Facebook could create a customizable Messenger bot for each streamer that answers FAQs (what type of mouse do you use?, what type of monitor? etc.) this could further engagement. The streamer/Facebook could even go deeper and create bots that use AI to embody the streamer’s community’s ideals, customs, and jokes and engage fans even when the streamer is offline.
Regardless of these potential improvements and changes, Facebook’s success as a gaming streaming platform relies heavily on authentic acceptance from the gaming community.
ELEAGUE Major: Boston - Esports at Their Finest
The ELEAGUE Major: Boston happened. And it was incredible.
As what will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest esports tournament runs of all-time, underdog Cloud9 defeated the top 4 teams in the world en route to becoming the first ever North American team to win a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive major, all before a home crowd in Boston. The finals were particularly epic, with Cloud9 losing its own map selection before bouncing back and staging an improbable upset over tournament favorite, FaZe Clan, in double overtime of the final map. The crowd went absolutely bananas. The finals also set the Twitch record for the highest total concurrent viewers on a single stream (1,130,000).
When a CSGO event is firing on all cylinders, as it was this weekend, the game is in a class of its own as an esport. The mechanics of CSGO are simple—one side tries to plant the bomb and the other side tries to defuse it if they do, all while both teams try to shoot each other. The action is also relatively easy to follow by esports standards, as conflicts can be anticipated, character movement is simplistic, and damage is done simply by shooting at your opponents (in contrast to character-specific abilities). This makes the game accessible to newer viewers. But the game also has virtually endless tactical depth, coupled with insane mechanical skill that can wow spectators who watch on a daily basis.
Beyond the gameplay itself, the round-based system employed by CSGO creates the best pacing of any esport. The flow of each round depends on the map, combination of equipment held by each player, and varying tactics employed by the two teams. Some rounds are incredibly fast, while others are more methodical. Important situations build up on a round-by-round basis and even within the rounds themselves. When a big moment happens in CSGO, you’re almost always put on notice that it could be about to happen.
Many popular esports check some of these boxes, but none check as many. CSGO is, simply put, the best spectator esport in existence today. Which makes me wonder, what would the CSGO esports ecosystem be like if it saw the same level of support from its publisher as does League of Legends or Overwatch? Those esports will receive more in the way of financial and logistical help from Riot and Blizzard in 2018 than CSGO has in its entire lifetime. We could see faster patching, map development, improved graphics and spectator capabilities, and more. We could also have a more cohesive calendar of competitions, with better build up to the biggest events. Maybe even more majors. CSGO has so much potential, much of which has already been realized. Imagine if it went to the next level…