The social networking site Facebook is set to launch a new software development kit designed to lay down a challenge to online game streaming services, such as Twitch and YouTube.
The announcement was made at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco last Monday and outlines plans allowing developers to make streaming PC games on users’ profiles as easy as possible. The streaming of live games, battles and contests, especially through the Amazon-owned Twitch or Google’s YouTube, has become increasingly popular, and broadcasting a player’s game time is a trend that Facebook, keen not to get left behind, can no longer ignore.
In January, Facebook, already active among social gaming with upward of 800 million gamers playing Facebook games each month, announced their exclusive new partnership with one of the world’s foremost esports event organizers, ESL One, to provide such services to the Facebook Live video streaming platform. The move adds to Facebook’s growing stable of gaming options such as those offered by Blizzard games like Overwatch, courtesy of an agreement that has been in place since 2016.
Instant Games, Facebook’s patented cross-platform gaming experience, has been in a state of closed-off beta for the past 18 months while monetization and marketing concepts were incorporated. Additionally, a Monetization Manager has been added that will allow developers to manage their earnings through a set of analytical optimization tools. These titles can be played in both the chat app and news feed.
This latest development has allowed Facebook to become the exclusive host of the live streams for the Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competitions, which are both organized by ESL One. Only two months ago, Facebook’s inaugural ESL One Genting Dota 2 contest took place in Birmingham, England, which, despite concerns over a boycott from Twitch users, officially became the fastest-selling ESL Dota 2 Major ever.
The developments all stem from Facebook’s new software development kit (SDK), which will be available for developers soon. One advantage of Facebook’s SDK is that it doesn’t require any additional software to handle live streams, which means that more users, both amateur and professional, will be able to publish their gameplay almost instantly.
Another aspect that ESL plans to exploit is Facebook’s cross-posting feature, which will allow streaming across the site, including the homepages of professional esports players and teams as well as incorporating the use of Facebook’s other innovative software, Oculus, used in virtual reality (VR) gaming.
In the case of cross-posting, this would be a feature unique to Facebook and, it is hoped, give the site the upper hand over Twitch and YouTube who cannot yet offer such features. Currently, Twitch does provide a sidebar for live comments, but this too will be available through Facebook, as will a clipping feature similar to the ones offered by Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox, which is in the works.
Also, as an added incentive to increase community interaction, viewers will soon be able to claim free in-game rewards as well as benefitting from Facebook’s Friend Finder tool to display their in-game stats into the relevant Facebook group. A new game switch application programming interface (API) has also been added, targeting new games to the most likely players while developers will also be able to create deep links into their games that will take players directly to their game whenever they are online. Developers are able to sign up and begin developing their games now.