Facebook is rolling out a new Gaming Creator Pilot Program, which is aimed toward boosting broadcasters on its platform. It will be hosting a summit this weekend to show over 40 content creators what kind of tools and services it’s offering as part of the initiative.
The pilot program draws resources from across the company, including Oculus and Instagram, both of which will have a presence at this weekend’s event. Facebook’s head of games partnerships Guy Cross says that the goal is make it easier for livestreamers to build a community. It also looks like the social media site is looking to siphon off some of Twitch’s audience and content creators — though Cross says that they’re not asking broadcasters for exclusivity deals at this time. He says it’s more about getting livestreamers to create content on Facebook every day.
“There are a lot of great services today, but it’s hard if you’re a creator,” said Cross in a phone call with GamesBeat. “You have to pull together your broadcasting software. There are tools for managing monetization services. There are tools to manage your community. There are tools to promote yourself, from a marketing perspective. A lot of these tools are actually in the Facebook family of apps, whether it’s Instagram or Messenger or the Facebook platform, our developer APIs, our livestreaming API.”
Cross cites Facebook’s Groups for Pages as an example of a tool creators could use to create an ongoing conversation with a community. One of the platform’s top livestreamers, StoneMountain64, has about 14,600 members in his Group who have generated over 1,000 posts in the last month.
StoneMountain64 says that the benefit of streaming on Facebook is that viewers can directly share the content with their friends. He previously streamed on other platforms, such as Twitch, but had difficulty growing his audience there. As of publication, nearly a million people have given StoneMountain64’s Page likes, and Facebook points to him as one of the most successful broadcasters on its site.
“I prefer streaming on Facebook so far because of the friendly community, and because of the power of delivering content directly to where people share,” said StoneMountain64 in an email to GamesBeat. “If someone watches a video or stream of mine on another platform, most likely they are going to Facebook to share it because no one is actually connected on other platforms.”
In addition to existing tools, Facebook will be road-testing new features with the pilot program. It’s adding the option to enable viewers to directly pay content creators, similar to donations on the livestreaming platform Twitch. It’s working to improve the quality of its videos, raising the resolution to 1080p at 60hz. Cross says the Facebook engineering team is also working on building out moderation tools.
“I have noticed toxicity to be a far smaller issue for me on Facebook,” said StoneMountain64, who has streamed on other sites like Twitch. “I am not sure whether it is just a different audience that I have attracted there, or if the less anonymity there makes people act a little more rationally, or if it’s some other factor. But with just a few chat moderators, every day I look forward to reading the chat and hanging out with the audience. ”
Along with the tools Facebook is building out, a dedicated team will be working directly with the broadcasters to offer hands-on support. Facebook’s Gaming Creator Program lead John Imah is running that team out of a Los Angeles headquarters.
“Basically, we’ll manage these creators like partners,” said Imah. “They’ll have day-to-day management where they can reach out to someone at Facebook that’s assigned to them, whether it’s asking basic questions or finding out what we’re doing in the space. They’ll have someone they can reach out to that can provide them with guidance as to what we’re doing on the platform with products, that type of thing. A lot of the feedback and conversation we see from creators, they love that. They want to feel that they’re a part of the team.”
In December, Facebook added livestreaming to its Instant Games. However, broadcasters won’t be limited to that library of titles. Imah says they’re searching for a variety creators who all sorts of games, from shooters to multiplayer online battle arenas. Facebook has been connecting with game companies such as Blizzard, Activision, and 2K Games to find streamers who play their titles. The pilot program team is also planning on attending industry events such as the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and PAX.
The main strength that Facebook is hoping to leverage is its social connectivity both to create communities around livestreams as well as to help with discoverability.
“People have been using Facebook to connect their identity and their gameplay, finding friends to play with via Facebook,” said Cross. “We have a good understanding of how people play games, and there’s a big correlation between things that they play and things they’re interested in watching. We’re looking at figuring out how to leverage our social graph so that can inform the kind of videos that we surface to people.”
Facebook has lately been ramping up its interest in gaming video content. In addition to adding livestreaming to Instant Games, it also inked a deal with Electronic Sports League (ESL) for exclusive rights to broadcast the esports company’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 tournaments. And its new Gaming Creator Pilot Program is the first time it’s focusing on boosting the visibility of the gaming broadcasters on its platform.
StoneMountain64 views it as an opportunity to reach a large audience who already visit the social media site for video content. He also says that he’s noticed less toxicity, perhaps because of the lack of anonymity.
“There have been many gaming creators getting on Facebook over the last few years as they are realizing more and more just how many users Facebook has and how useful of a platform it can be,” said StoneMountain64. “Some viewers are not interested in switching or using it, and many creators had written it off, but the greatest thing is there are already so many great users on the platform that I haven’t needed to try to convince people to go there.”