Facebook tackles Twitch and YouTube with a built-in game streaming twist

Video pundits have speculated for a while as to how Facebook would respond to the live-streamed gaming challenge posed by Google's YouTube and Amazon's Twitch, and the social media site this week revealed how it will attempt to beat its competitors in this game of thrones. Facebook and games maker Blizzard are teaming up to integrate social login and live video streaming into its latest major title, Overwatch.

Additional PC-based titles will be integrated with Facebook beginning later this month, Blizzard said in the announcement. These include its blockbusters World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Diablo III and StarCraft II.

Gamers playing on such integrated Blizzard titles will be able to log in to Facebook, find friends to either play with or share in-game content with (including live feeds of the game as it progresses), and trade comments in real time.

Facebook's strategy makes sense: TechCrunch noted that more than 650 million of its members play Facebook-connected games each month (just think of all those FarmVille and Royal Story invites waiting in your news feed). Launching a completely fresh live-streamed games component might take time to build up -- and there's no time to lose, as Twitch already has a healthy 100 million gamers using its service each month -- while its connected games are established and often appear as seamless experiences for users.

Adding to that potentially seamless experience, Blizzard users won't need to create a separate Battle.net account, according to Engadget.

The announcement set off a bit of speculation as to whether Facebook will also get more involved in the growing esports segment, one which programmers like Turner are already investing in. That wasn't addressed in Blizzard's release.

However, the potential for Facebook to make similar deals with other AAA-rated games makers is certainly in place. "Although Blizzard also owns the number two streamed game on Twitch, Hearthstone, DOTA 2 and League of Legends are also incredibly popular, meaning that there are many more rich pickings to be had if Facebook can persuade other developers that the collaboration would be beneficial," a gamesindustry.biz article said.

For more:
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this Engadget article
- see this press release

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