Facebook to push video game streaming



Opinion columnist Sam King discusses the recent news that Facebook plans to launch a video game streaming service.

SAM KING, Opinion Columnist

A few days ago, social media giant Facebook announced that they were going to test out a video game streaming service to better compete with YouTube and Twitch (Variety).

That was one piece of news that made my head spin: Facebook streaming video games? That’s so odd and random. Then I thought about it, and it suddenly makes a lot of sense.

Facebook is an absolute monster of a social media platform. With a little over two billion active users, Facebook is a beast that seems unstoppable (Statista). They have enough money to do basically anything they want. So why not get into video game streaming?

Everyone is familiar with Facebook Live and how it allows one to live stream whatever they want. It’s been a fun and decently popular tool — one that’s also been mired with some unfortunate abuse (Reuters).

They also have a video streaming service for TV shows, although that one is less popular. So, with live streaming and video streaming checked off, the next streaming step to take is video game streaming.

It’s pretty clear that Facebook really wants to compete with YouTube for social media video dominance. YouTube is quite dominant on its own, however.

Almost five billion videos are watched on YouTube per day (Fortune Lords), which is much higher than Facebook’s daily view count. According to Sprout Social, only about 100 million videos are watched per day for Facebook.

Still, that 100 million could grow and be a threat. With this new video game streaming service, Facebook could potentially bolster their views. It’s easy to see how that may happen, but Facebook has to deal with another key competitor besides YouTube in this realm.

Twitch is the undisputed king of video game streaming.

While Twitch may not have the sheer volume of videos watched or active users that YouTube and Facebook do, they instead have an extremely interactive and engaged user base.

Twitch is all about forging communities behind streamers and games. The viewers and streamers actively and frequently communicate with each other. That’s something neither YouTube and Facebook can consistently do.

Twitch is also owned by Amazon, another stupidly giant company. Amazon’s recent attempts at revamping Twitch, with Twitch Prime and its new game store, have been going very well.

Partnerships with eSports leagues have also strengthened the streaming site in recent months. All of this makes Facebook look like weak competition, but I would argue something else may work against Facebook even more.

That is perception — specifically, the perception of Facebook, YouTube and Twitch, respectively.

The gaming community universally recognizes that Twitch is the home base for video game streaming. YouTube is also widely regarded as being very video game friendly, with many streamers posting highlight videos of the streams on YouTube or YouTube gamers streaming on Twitch.

I myself use both Twitch and YouTube for my streaming and video needs.

Facebook, on the other hand, is not synonymous with video games. It never has been and I doubt it ever will be.

Streaming on Facebook seems alien to me. Unless Facebook rolls out some kind of serious financial benefit, I doubt people will move from Twitch to Facebook.

Just think about Facebook for a second. When you hear that, what do you think?

Chances are most college age people think of their parents or their grandparents. Facebook is being shunned by younger people, the core audience of video gaming, and is embraced by older generations (Business Insider).

I also doubt many people want their grandparents watching their video game stream.

This generational gap is also partially why I’m writing this article. Facebook wants to become a one stop shop for streaming. That’s obvious to see, but I honestly don’t think they can pull it off.

Their massive user base and piles of money isn’t enough to change the perception they have — the perception that Gen Z and the Millennials have of them and the perception of Facebook being old school.

That would be okay in some cases, but with streaming it’s painfully obvious that the younger generations are the core audience and especially the core audience of video game streaming.

Facebook wants to attract this younger audience with all these streaming services. That’s easy to see, but I still don’t think it’s going to work.

I’m assuming whoever reads this article has a Facebook account. I am also assuming that if you’re a college student like me or close in age, you probably don’t use Facebook much or at all.

So, my question to you is: What do you think about all of this?

Is Facebook going to catch up to Twitch and YouTube? Can Facebook ever get rid of their perception as an old school social media platform?

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.