This week saw the release of the Facebook Gaming app. The app represents Facebook’s response to platforms like Twitch, Mixer, and Youtube Gaming. Until now, Facebook Gaming has always been directly integrated into Facebook itself. Let’s break down the good, the bad, and the ugly.
On its surface, the Facebook Gaming app is pretty slick. It utilizes a dark theme design. Why this isn’t the industry standard at this point I’ll never know. Beyond that, it’s Facebook. If you can navigate the Facebook app, you’ll be able to navigate this. The main page features a scrolling timeline that people can post or comment on, just like Facebook.
The second tab is a gaming tab which allows you to play Facebook-connected games with friends. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to break out that game of Farmville or Words With Friends, then the quarantine is truly getting to you. Nevertheless, here’s your chance. It’s all functional and doesn’t seem to be particularly clunky. From a design standpoint, I approve.
The third tab on the app is where I start having problems. It’s a Twitch-style page that lets you find people streaming games live on Facebook Gaming. And this is where we encounter our first issue. Facebook Gaming is doing its best to attract new streamers, but Twitch remains the gold standard. I’m just not going to Facebook Gaming to watch people live-stream as long as Twitch is around.
Maybe I’m just new to the app, but Twitch has a much better layout. You want to watch League of Legends on Twitch? Browse>League of Legends> pick your streamer. Done. You want to do it on Facebook Gaming? You can follow League of Legends, but it’s mainly showing posts rather than a selection of streamers to choose from. Maybe it’s easier than I’m making it out to be, but it’s not intuitive.
The biggest problem I have with the Facebook Gaming App is that I can’t figure out who it’s for. It’s not as good, intuitive, or populated as Twitch. It doesn’t have the wealth of content that Youtube has. It’s not the simple quick fix of Twitter. The only demo that makes sense is people who already use Facebook Gaming and want to completely separate it from the main Facebook app. That’s not much of a market.
The app does many things okay, but none of them particularly well. If there’s anything we can learn from the internet age, it’s that you need to do something well if you want to succeed. Apps that serve as ‘everything under one roof, but only kinda’ never last. Anyone remember Trillian? Stop lying, no you don’t. I would imagine the Facebook Gaming app will be fine for people who want to use it. I just don’t think it’s about to disrupt the industry in any kind of way. I’d be very surprised if it ends up being more than a blip on the radar.
Looking for something to do while under quarantine? Check out the Shutdown Showdown! It’s a charity APEX Legends tournament benefiting No Kid Hungry. The tournaments are running on Tuesdays throughout April with proceeds going to charity. It’s just $10 to enter and you can enter solo or with your friends. Check it out here!
Lead Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images