Facebook teams up with Blizzard to take on Twitch

Blizzard users will be able to log on via Facebook, and stream their games to their NewsFeeds

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
June 6, 2016
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People really like watching other people play video games. It may seem a little odd, or even counterintuitive, but the space has become big business. Remember, back in 2014, that social video platform Twitch became an extremely hot property, with Google and Amazon fighting over it, before it was finally acquired by Amazon for nearly a billion dollars. 

Both companies obviously saw big value in it, and, since then, the space has only gotten stronger, with Twitch posting some big numbers in 2015. Now Facebook wants in on the action, to help bolster its efforts in live streaming video. 

On Monday, it was announced that the company is teaming up with Blizzard Entertainment, to integrate Facebook Login into Blizzard's games on PC. That means that users can sign up with their existing Facebook account, without having to create one for, Blizzard's digital distribution platform for its online games. 

Taking on Twitch

More importantly, it also means that Blizzard is incorporating Facebook’s Live API to create its own “Go Live” streaming. Through that platform, users will be able livestream their games to their Facebook timelines, allowing their friends to subscribe and be notified when new streams become available. 

Some of Blizzard's titles include World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Diablo III andStarCraft II. Its latest game, called Overwatch, which was released on May 24, already has more than 7 million players, who have logged more than 119 million hours combined.

With numbers like that, becoming part of Blizzard's online game community will automatically help make Facebook a major competitor against Twitch, which has been doing this same thing for many years.

Not that Facebook needs much help in this department; people have not have liked all the Zynga games, like FarmVille and CityVille, but they did help turn Facebook into a gaming hub, something that remains to this day.

In 2015, Twitch users watched more than 459,000 years-worth of video, with 550,000 average concurrent viewers. There were over 421 monthly minutes watched per viewer. Currently on Facebook, meanwhile, more than 650 million people play games connected to Facebook every month across Web, mobile, and console.

There's an obvious benefit for Blizzard in this deal as well, gaining easier access to Facebook's 1.65 billion monthly users. When Overwatch was about to launch, the two companies worked together on an ad campaign that spread across both Facebook and Instagram, with Carousel ads, Canvas, and Instagram Marquee. Considering how many people signed up to play the game in only its first week, it looks like that campaign paid off.

Facebook's live streaming efforts

The partnership will also help Facebook in its efforts to become the premiere source for live stream video, where it has been battling Twitter.

Earlier this month Facebook introduced a slew of new features to enhance its live video capabilities, turning itself into what can only be described as a live video hub.

That included users being able to broadcast live videos to Facebook Groups and Events, as well as Live Reactions, which let users show how they feel about a broadcast in real-time, using the same Reactions that the company launched in February.

The company also introduced Live Filters, which will let users draw or doodle on your video while live. These are coming soon; The ability to send an invitation to a friend to watch live video with you; and Facebook Live Map on desktop, so users can see what live videos are trending all around the world.

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