Facebook Gaming now available as standalone app on Android
Facebook has been trying its best to become a big player in the gaming world as they have seen over the years how lucrative it can be. Now they are going all in with a wider market as the Facebook Gaming standalone app is now available globally for Android devices. All of the social media’s gaming content including games, streams, pages, and groups can now be found in one place through the app that is now available on the Google Play Store.
Facebook Gaming is basically a part of the social network where all things gaming can be found. It started out with casual games rolling out on its Messenger section and they eventually ventured into game streaming since that’s what’s big in the community. There’s a Gaming section already on your app where you can see suggested games based on what you’ve previously played as well as your friends that have been posting game results or streaming.
But now for those who would want to play games and view streams separately from their main Facebook account can download the standalone app on their Android device. You can choose from among its library of games to play within the app itself. You can also just view those who are streaming their games, a popular pastime for casual and serious gamers. You can even stream your own gameplay if you want to venture into that world.
The app has actually been around since 2018 but only in limited territories. Facebook says they’ve seen more than 5 million installs since then. They recently opened pre-registration and said that more than 100,000 people signed up for it. There are also more than 700M that are already involved in the Facebook Gaming section in one way or another so they are hoping that the numbers would also translate to their standalone app.
In case you’re interested to add another gaming app to your device, you can download Facebook Gaming from the Google Play Store. It’s the perfect time for them to launch this globally as there are a lot of people with “free time” on their hands now.
Facebook Gaming Is Here — but Who Is It For?
The social giant’s latest standalone app doesn’t offer enough for either casual gamers or esports steaming fans.
For years, the words “ Facebook” and “gaming” were more likely to evoke memories of an aunt’s dusty Words With Friends invitation than anything else. And for years, Facebook has been on a journey to change, or at least broaden, its stodgy reputation among gamers young and old with its game-streaming platform, virtual reality technology, and push into cloud gaming.
As part of that many-pronged adventure into the $120 billion games industry, Facebook launched its Facebook Gaming app today, where users can both pick back up that old Words With Friends game and watch their fifth or sixth-favorite Call of Duty streamer click heads. It’s an ambitious app aimed at helping you produce and interact with gaming content just as much as you consume it, yet in its early stages, doesn’t do any one thing well enough to feel competitive.
Facebook Gaming arrives earlier than originally planned for Android, as the company tries to catch the waves of bored quarantined users flocking to both games and gaming entertainment content, The New York Times reports. (It will release on iOS once Apple approves it.) When you first open the app, it asks you to select some of your favorite games, and then suggests some streamers to follow. It has a news feed tab displaying clips, videos, and posts from gaming groups like regular Facebook; a tab for playing popular Facebook games like OMG and Nametests; a tab for watching or discovering livestreams; and a tab for messages. Camera buttons sit on both the bottom right and top left of the main page for livestreaming yourself playing mobile games installed on your phone.
Facebook Gaming’s offerings alternate uncomfortably between products pitched to people who might watch esports on Twitch and those tilted to the more casual Words With Friends crowd. Both ride on the heels of previous Facebook products: For over a decade, Facebook has hosted casual games like FarmVille, and more recently launched a livestreaming service to compete with Amazon’s Twitch or YouTube’s “Gaming” section. There are better, more established streaming services out there, and it is just as easy to play Facebook games in the original Facebook app. Facebook Gaming gathers these two things together, but for whom?
Facebook has recently tried to attract tried and true gamers by signing exclusive streaming deals with noted celebrities and microcelebrities, from former Super Smash Bros. pro Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios to strategy game streamer Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang. They’ve drawn a little notoriety to the platform, pushing Facebook Gaming into the third-place spot in the livestreaming wars behind Twitch and YouTube. (In the first quarter of this year, Facebook’s game-streaming service received about a sixth as many hours watched as Twitch and half of YouTube’s “Gaming” section. That said, its hours watched quadrupled year over year in January.) Streams discovered through Facebook Gaming are typically not as polished or hype as those on Twitch, although there are a handful of well-promoted streamers whose pages and past videos are easy to navigate.
It is also incredibly easy to stream yourself playing mobile games on Facebook Gaming; four clicks, give or take. But who streams mobile games? It isn’t anywhere near as popular as streaming PC or console games. I went live on Facebook Gaming playing both Bubble Shooter (via the app) and Overwatch (via my gaming PC and the streaming software OBS). Two friends could not find me streaming Overwatch on Facebook Gaming, although surely it was the more interesting stream. Facebook says it’s continuing to fine-tune the app’s discoverability features.Advertisement
What most excited me about the app was actually its news feed. I’d gleefully delete my Facebook profile if not for meme groups, and especially gaming meme groups, which I gulp down before bed like a warm mug of chamomile tea. A news feed dedicated entirely to gaming memes and gameplay clips is something I personally would fire up a separate app to consume—especially if I can easily hit a tab to heckle my friend streaming themselves playing Call of Duty’s Warzone. Right now, Facebook Gaming is light on this sort of #content. Although my favorite Animal Crossing: New Horizons meme group posts sometimes appear, and I’ve followed a lot of gaming groups, my news feed is mostly “crazy” Call of Duty clips and streamers I don’t know.
Facebook has spun out a lot of apps, with mixed results. Of course there’s Messenger, which for many has taken the place of SMS apps. But remember Notify? Facebook Deals? Facebook Camera? Me neither. Facebook has invested a lot into its push into games though, and has seen some success, in part, because of its cutesy offerings, deals with top streamers, and an enormous captive audience.
Although the gaming community is huge, and encompasses every type of person, products made for people who play games often succeed when they’re tailored to their specific habits. It’s unclear how a lowest-common-denominator platform can boost Facebook’s gaming presence, but in the meantime, I’ll be on the hunt for better meme groups.