Twitch’s New Rival: Facebook Barrels Into Video-Game Broadcasting With Blizzard

StarCraft II Blizzard Entertainment
Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Facebook will soon let users broadcast live video-game play directly into their News Feeds — forging into an area dominated by Amazon’s Twitch.

The social giant inked a pact with Blizzard Entertainment, under which users of Blizzard’s PC games such as “World of Warcraft,” “Heroes of the Storm,” “Hearthstone,” “Diablo III,” “StarCraft II” and “Overwatch” will be able to log in using their Facebook accounts and then live-stream their gaming sessions directly to their Facebook timelines. Friends will be able to subscribe and be notified when new streams are available.

According to Facebook, more than 650 million every month people play games connected to the social site across web, mobile devices and game consoles.

Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard, said it’s working to incorporate Facebook’s Live application programming interface to create a “Go Live” streaming feature for its games. Separately, Activision Blizzard has announced plans to bring live eSports tournament coverage from MLG to Facebook, launching with the MLG Anaheim Open “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” tournament kicking off June 10, 2016.

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As part of the companies’ partnership, Blizzard recently hosted multiple live-streaming sessions via Facebook. The first series centered on “Heroes of the Dorm,” Blizzard’s collegiate tournament for team-brawler title “Heroes of the Storm,” and last week Blizzard hosted a live-streamed launch event for Overwatch, its new team-based shooter, on Facebook.

“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,” Leo Olebe, global games partnerships director at Facebook, said in a prepared statement.

Twitch, which Amazon acquired in 2014 for about $1 billion, hosts more than 1.7 million individual broadcasters. The service had 8.5 million daily active users as of January 2016 (up 20% from a year earlier) who watched an average of 106 minutes of video daily. About 13,000 broadcasters are members of the Twitch Partner Program, which lets them sell ads, subscriptions and merchandise.

Google’s YouTube — which had been itself in talks to acquire Twitch — last summer boosted live-streaming features for gamers on its dedicated YouTube Gaming site and apps.

Pictured above: Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft II

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