Facebook launches a Twitch and YouTube competitor

April 20, 2020, 4:45 PM UTC

Facebook is picking a fight with Amazon and Google.

The social media giant plans to launch a mobile app called Facebook Gaming that will enable users to stream their own video game play as well as watch other players. That will put Facebook in direct competition with Amazon-owned Twitch and Google’s YouTube.

Game streaming has been on the rise for several years, but it has seen explosive growth as more and more people turn to video games as a way to combat boredom and stay in touch with friends during the extended lockdown. Traffic on Twitch jumped from 982 million hours in February to more than 1.1 billion hours in March.

The app, which has been available for testing in international markets for the past 18 months, will initially be available on the Google Play app store. An iOS version will follow later.

With Facebook Gaming, players will press a “Go Live” button to begin streaming game play from their mobile phones directly to Facebook. Fans will be able to tip players with “stars,” which will let people monetize their broadcasts.

Twitch is far and away the leader when it comes to game streaming, though Google has been making an effort to increase YouTube’s presence in the space, tying it in with the launch of the Stadia game service. Facebook, though, is a competitor worth watching, given its active user base of 2.5 billion people, as of the fourth quarter of 2019. The company says over 700 million users currently play games on the main Facebook app.

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