Back in January Facebook launched their Gaming Creator Pilot Program, an initiative which aims to help videogame streamers build, and engage with, their audience through the social media platform. Turns out the pilot program is part of a much bigger plan Facebook have for getting involved in esports, with the ultimate goal to take on Twitch.
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In a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Facebook’s director of games partnerships for the Americas, Guy Cross, explained that the pilot program is part of a “broader gaming video strategy, which fits into a broader games platform strategy for Facebook.” That plan is to adapt Facebook into a “video-first company.”
Undeterred by the dominance of streaming giants Twitch and YouTube, Facebook say it’s not too late for them to offer content creators something new.
“We need to play catch up and make sure that we offer very good services that you would expect to see on other platforms, but also figure out how we can make the whole business of becoming a creator easier,” Cross says. “A lot of partners feel like their growth on other platforms has levelled off, and they are hungry to reach new audiences.”
Facebook have been gradually becoming more involved in games, and particularly esports, in the past few years. In 2014 they bought Oculus VR, eventually integrating VR with the social media platform in 2016. Later that same year, the company launched a Steam-like Gamesroom in an effort to attract casual PC gamers.
The push into esports began last year with a variety of team and event deals – such as their livestreaming deal with ESL. Earlier this month, they secured the exclusive rights to stream the H1Z1 pro-league, and now leading esports company,Gfinity, have announced they will stream Gfinity Elite Series tournaments exclusively on Facebook.
This latest agreement allows Facebook to cover every minute of the Gfinity Elite Series, including regular season and playoffs.The social media platform will also have access to behind the scenes weekly match highlights, and special guest appearances from outside the esports world, including footballer Adebayo ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa – who will be hosting a weekly FIFA 18 show.