In a nutshell
- Facebook Gaming came out as a legit competitor to Twitch and YouTube but took a sudden nosedive.
- A handful of consistent issues with the platform continue to hold it back.
- Despite the waning traffic, there are still benefits for content creators.
Meta’s entry into the video game streaming market, Facebook Gaming, appears to be on its last legs. But is this really the case? Or is there still life in the ecosystem for content creators to take advantage of?
In 2018, Meta decided to fully enter the video game streaming market with the launch of Facebook Gaming. It wasn’t until 2020, when the company released a standalone gaming app, that it really surged. Leveraging the strength of their social media presence, Meta came out of the gate as a strong competitor against Twitch and YouTube Gaming. When the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic hit and people were forced indoors, all three services found major boosts in viewership.
Even as COVID restrictions lessened, Facebook’s service continued to show healthy growth. In 2021, viewership stats showed Facebook Gaming managed to surpass YouTube Gaming — though both were well behind Twitch’s dominant market share. While Facebook Gaming was far from the first Twitch competitor, it was on track to be one of the most successful.
Fall from grace
Things changed dramatically for Facebook Gaming in 2022. For reasons pundits are still debating, viewership on Facebook Gaming began to plummet dramatically. The handful of notable streamers using the service jumped ship as their contracts came to a close. By October, Facebook announced it was shutting down the Gaming App. Ostensibly, they were still dedicated to game streaming and issued this statement on the app’s shuttering:
“Despite this news, our mission to connect players, fans and creators with the games they love hasn’t changed, and you’ll still be able to find your games, streamers and groups when you visit Gaming in the Facebook app.”
However, the app’s shutdown was significant, showing how much of a hit the service had taken. It’s no surprise that many people feel Facebook Gaming is dead. A handful of persistent issues aren’t making things better:
- Notifications: Audiences aren’t notified when you’re live as quickly as other services.
- Prioritization: Despite having almost no big-name streamers, Facebook Gaming’s algorithm specifically prioritizes bigger creators and people who pay for ad space. This makes organically garnering an audience for newcomers more difficult.
- Ease of use: Facebook Gaming has some great tools for creators, but its UI isn’t user-friendly. Even for audiences, it’s clunky to navigate, making it easy for viewers just to give up and go elsewhere.
- Audience demographics: By and large, Facebook’s core user base skews a bit older. As such, certain games wouldn’t make as much popular content as other, younger-skewing platforms could.
- Confusion for creators: Between changing up their partnership program and using an “in-house” currency (Stars), monetization can be a tricky thing to navigate and account for.
Not dead yet
Facebook Gaming isn’t likely to regain its initial prominence, but it’s not entirely dead just yet. With roughly 173,000 concurrent viewers in the most recent quarter, there’s still an audience worth tapping into. It may seem counterintuitive, but there are some benefits to using Facebook Gaming at this point:
- It’s Facebook: The gaming side of Meta might have its issues, but Facebook is still the largest social media platform. With nearly three billion active monthly users, there’s no denying its reach and the potential for engaging a community.
- Less competition: Twitch and YouTube are filled with prominent personalities/influencers, so gaining a foothold with those audiences can be tough. Facebook Gaming, having less big-name competition, gives creators a chance to stand out and build up their own following.
- Group sharing: Because it’s integrated into Facebook’s overall social media platform, sharing streams to existing communities is super easy. If you’re already a part of a gaming group, it’s a simple matter to post your latest livestreams onto your feed(s).
- Partnerships: Facebook Gaming’s partnership program is still going and has even expanded to 15 additional countries over the last few months.
- Archiving: The UI may be wonky, but Facebook Gaming gives creators some solid tools. Livestreams are saved once you end a session—along with any clips made—and stored for 30 days (as opposed to Twitch’s 14 days). You can schedule replays of previous streams or clips to a page/group through the Creator Dashboard. In this way, it’s easier to keep your content fresh for new audiences, even between going live.
Use what’s available
Facebook Gaming may not be dead, but it’s certainly not the game-streaming juggernaut it tried to be. Its core base isn’t tailored to watching streams in the same way as Twitch and YouTube. That’s not to mention new services (e.g., Kick) also popping up to take advantage of Twitch’s confusing changes.
For now, Meta is still keeping Facebook Gaming around. As such, you might as well make use of the benefits it can offer while you can. Facebook Gaming is an excellent place to begin building your brand and community. It may not be worthwhile in the long run, but it’s a less crowded place to begin as you fine-tune the type of content you want to produce.