Facebook and Blizzard getting into the game-streaming business

The booming world of video gaming as spectator sport is about to get even more competitive with the entry of the social media titan into the field

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2016, 11:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2016, 11:30am

Facebook has announced it is getting into the e-sports game, jumping into the field of video games as spectator sports against Amazon-owned Twitch and Google’s YouTube Gaming.

Later this month, people will be able to use Facebook accounts to log in to Blizzard Entertainment computer games such as World of Warcraft.

The move will pave the way for fans of Blizzard’s games to use the social network’s Live video service to broadcast play in real time, the companies said in a joint release.

California-based Blizzard, owned by video game publisher Activision, is in the process of creating a “Go Live” feature that would let players stream on-screen action to Facebook timelines, according to the companies.

Blizzard games in line for the Facebook streaming capability included newly released Overwatch, a team-based shooter played online.

The collaboration will add social features to Blizzard games while highlighting Facebook as a platform for sharing, viewing and discussing play, the companies said.

“Our collaboration on Overwatch demonstrates Facebook’s commitment to partnering with AAA game companies, while further empowering Blizzard gamers to connect and share the content they’re most passionate about with the friends they play with around the world,” said Facebook global games director Leo Olebe.

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Facebook earlier this year ramped up its challenge to Twitter-owned Periscope with upgrades to the social network’s live video broadcasting feature.

A new featured was added to the Live streaming feature at Facebook to let people broadcast “to groups at the social network or in scheduled events”.

Facebook Live launched in the middle of last year and was initially limited to celebrities but recently opened to a wider audience of broadcasters.

Getting into the e-sports game will pit Facebook against heavyweight rivals including pioneering firm Twitch and YouTube, owned by Google parent Alphabet.

Yahoo Esports launched about two months ago as an online venue for live tournaments, commentary, features, interviews and more, all tailored for the booming trend of video games as spectator sports.

The roll-out of YouTube Gaming in the middle of last year marked the public debut of an online spot where video game lovers can find commentary, live play, on-demand snippets and more.

The online arena for video game channels uses Google’s search capabilities to unearth fresh or must-see content.

Online retail giant Amazon snatched up Twitch and its huge audience for live-streamed gaming in 2014.

The acquisition was one of the largest in Amazon’s history — US$970 million in cash for the three-year-old internet company.

Twitch Interactive streams games being played for non-playing viewers to watch, and hosts gaming events.

It also allows viewers to chat with the players and others, lending it some of the qualities of social networking websites, and it also sells advertising to generate income.