[toc]Facebook has a struck a deal with Blizzard Entertainment that will see players gaining the facility to livestream their online play at the press of a “Go Live” button.
Play will be livestreamed to a user’s Facebook timeline, and players will be able to sign up and log in to these games using their Facebook accounts.
Leo Olebe, global games partnerships director at Facebook said:
“Blizzard has a passionate community of players, and an incredible track record for launching innovative and high-quality gaming experiences. 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.”
Facebook joins Twitch and YouTube as an esports broadcaster
Facebook has already improved its features to include some livestreaming. Facebook Live launched last August, but provided a limited level of functionality and was initially restricted to celebrity users.
The development of the new API to fit the Blizzard games implies that more development could easily extend the streaming service to other major games such as Riot Games’ League of Legends.
Such development would position Facebook to compete with Twitch and YouTube as a broadcast medium for esports. The success of Twitch, which Amazon bought for $970 million two years ago, has been a mutually beneficial result of intersecting demand for esports and live stream technology.
Esports is getting eStadiums
With Facebook, Twitch and YouTube all offering easy livestream facilities, there is now a solid technological infrastructure making esports accessible to a global audience. In a sense, these internet giants have given esports “eStadiums” in which they can showcase events.
Real stadiums give live sports their focus, a place for home fans to express loyalty to their favourite teams and a geographical sense of identity with those teams. Esports lacks this advantage in securing a long-term fan base.
Although stadium-held esports events are achieving great success, the vast majority of viewers at such events come from online streams. Esports is more reliant than traditional sports on the attractions of celebrity and the ease of access to celebrity players that video streams and social media can provide.
YouTube, Twitch and now Facebook virtual stadiums are effectively giving esports an equivalent infrastructure to traditional sports.
The social interactions are an essential part of esports
The social features that come along with these live stream platforms add a further dimension of value not just to professional teams and players, but to the much larger recreational player base.
Gio Hunt, executive vice president of corporate operations at Blizzard Entertainment explained:
“Blizzard games are best when played with friends, so it’s important to us to provide our players with features and services that make it easy and fun to share their experiences with each other.”
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