What you need to know
- Facebook Gaming is a streaming service from Meta, baked into Facebook's website and its live streaming platform.
- Today, it started sending notifications out to partners that its apps will shut down in October.
- Facebook Gaming has struggled to meaningfully find growth in a game streaming world dominated by Twitch and YouTube.
- Microsoft's similar Mixer live streaming platform shut down a few years ago, with its users ushered to Facebook Gaming in the process.
Facebook Gaming is a live streaming platform run by Meta, and is analogous to platforms like Twitch and YouTube for allowing content creators to broadcast themselves to audiences. Typically, Facebook Gaming and similar services revolve around video games, although they have branched out to "IRL" streams that focus on simply chatting, art creation, or even Microsoft Excel esports. During the pandemic, live streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch enjoyed a boom period, with more users than ever stuck at home as offices and other work places shuttered. In the post-pandemic era, we're starting to see patterns that are perhaps less favorable than some streaming platforms would like.
During that same pandemic boom, Microsoft's own Mixer platform struggled to court new users, which spoke to the likelihood that the service was never going to be able to compete with Twitch. As such, Microsoft cut a deal with Facebook Gaming to onboard its creators, offering instant partnerships. Many users opted instead to jump across to Twitch, given its dominance in the space, and general scepticism of the Facebook platform which is increasingly divisive and "uncool" particularly among younger internet users. Facebook itself saw its first decline in monthly active users earlier this year, almost instantly wiping 20% off its share price. It's with that in mind that we cast our sights over Facebook Gaming, which may be heading the way of Microsoft's Mixer.
Today, Facebook Gaming began notifying some of its partners that it's killing off its mobile game streaming apps. While the statement below claims that it plans to continue supporting game streaming within Facebook itself, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that this could signal a wider pivot away from live game streaming video in favor of its ethereal "metaverse" push.
Eek... this feels familiar.. 😶 pic.twitter.com/5AYLKy8AZRAugust 30, 2022
A quick glance at Facebook Gaming shows streams running far fewer concurrent numbers than the top shows on Twitch, although we can dig deeper into data provided by StreamLabs, which shows a steady decline in Facebook's miniscule 7% market share since Spring of this year. In April, Facebook Gaming sported 211 million hours watched, which has sank to 178 million hours as of June 2022. For comparison, YouTube Gaming added 30 million hours during the same time frame. Both platforms pale in comparison to Amazon's Twitch, which racked up 1.85 billion viewing hours in June. Facebook Gaming saw half of its viewing hours wiped out from its pandemic peak, in a trend that shows no sign of abating any time soon.
The patterns are relatively familiar as someone who followed Microsoft's Mixer, which failed to add meaningful viewing hours during the pandemic boom period that saw Twitch and other platforms hit record viewerships. Microsoft decide to cut its losses and focus on new ventures like Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming instead, in what was quite arguably the right move.
Conversely, Meta is hedging all of its bets on the so-called "metaverse," which is a loosely-defined confluence of technologies that Facebook hopes will give it control over the point of access to a VR version of the web that lacks the privacy controls of iOS and Google Play — both of which have wiped billions off Meta's revenue streams in recent years.
Speaking personally, I think Microsoft is making a safer bet with the cloud right now.
Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
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