While Twitch and Twitter receive a lot more attention when it comes to video game press coverage, Facebook and Instagram remain leading social media platforms for game companies. Starting this month, Blizzard will be integrating Facebook Login and Facebook’s Live API into all its games.
Using their Facebook accounts, players will be able to sign up for and log into games such as World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Diablo III, StarCraft II, and Blizzard’s most recent blockbuster release, Overwatch. Adding a Facebook Login will pave the way for new social functionality in Blizzard games.
Blizzard will be incorporating Facebook’s Live API in order to create its own “Go Live” streaming functionality for its games. For the first time, players will be able to livestream their Blizzard gaming sessions directly to their Facebook timelines, and friends will be able to subscribe and be notified when new streams are available.
Leo Olebe, director of global games partnerships at Facebook, explains why Blizzard and other AAA game makers are gravitating to these social media platforms.
How have you seen game developers gravitate towards Facebook?
In 2015, game developers earned over $2.5 billion on our platform by using Facebook tools and services to help build, grow, and monetize their games. Facebook has more than 1.6 billion monthly active users, and that includes more than 650 million people who play games either on Facebook or connected to Facebook every month across desktop, mobile and console. No other platform in the world has this kind of reach. With world-class mobile advertising products, monetization via Audience Network (a unique tool set for building optimized data-driven apps with Facebook Analytics for Apps), and the world’s best social identity and account authentication solution, Facebook Login—we have built products that create true developer value. We also support developers with mentorship and resources via programs like FbStart, as well as our regular meet-ups and hackathons around the world.
Traditionally, Twitch is the go-to service for video game livestreaming. What does Facebook open up to game makers?
We always like to tie our ideas back to our mission. Our mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. We want people to be able to share the game content they are most passionate about, with the people they care about. Facebook brings tremendous reach and engagement for streamers as well as social connectivity options that just don’t exist in the livestreaming world today. Also, Facebook has a real identity policy, whereby people are their real selves. As a result, interactions in the community are different than seen on other platforms, and we believe this will improve the overall experience, making it better for both game makers and people.
How big a role does Facebook play for the average gamer?
If you just look at Facebook.com, more than 15 percent of time spent is people playing games. In addition to games played on Facebook.com, mobile game developers use both Facebook Login and friend connections to improve their game experiences: whether that’s to find other Facebook friends, compete against each other on leaderboards, invite others to play, share content to their news feed, join each other’s guilds, and more. On the desktop, we are also connecting people. As you know we just announced that Blizzard is bringing Facebook Login and Facebook Live to all of its games, and we’ve also partnered with Riot to integrate Facebook Login into League of Legends.
With PlayStation and now Microsoft, we’ve also unlocked sharing directly from consoles in screenshot and video format. We recently launched Facebook Friend Finder, available via the Xbox app on Windows 10 and Xbox.com. This new feature lets players add their Facebook friends to their Xbox Live friends list without having to manually search for their name or Gamertag. Today, more than 30 million people have connected their Facebook account to either PSN or Xbox Live.
What type of engagement are you seeing from game companies that have embraced these new features early?
Early game partners that have integrated the Live API have seen engagement increase exponentially compared to other streaming platforms. We’ve seen many different and creative ways developers are choosing to use it, from producer interviews, to tournaments, to high-end productions. Some other partners that have been using the Live API include 2K Sports, Super Evil Mega Corp, EA, Zynga, PlayStation, Activision, PopCap Games, and many others.
How did you work with Blizzard on the Overwatch launch?
We worked closely together to reach Facebook’s global audience. Blizzard used a mix of Facebook’s marketing solutions, including Carousel ads, Canvas, and Instagram Marquee. Blizzard tapped into Facebook and Instagram’s global audience of 1.65 billion and 400 million people respectively to reach a broad set of gaming and entertainment audiences. Using tools and services such as Facebook Login and Live API will allow Blizzard to reach more gamers around the world through its games.
How are you blending Facebook with Instagram to reach a larger audience?
With more than 1.65 billion people on Facebook and 400 million people on Instagram every month, games marketers have a huge opportunity to reach gamers across the entire customer lifecycle. Discovery is increasingly difficult in the crowded mobile app ecosystem. To grow brand awareness, marketers can leverage ad formats like video ads, Canvas, carousel, and 360 video while using precise targeting to reach the gamers who matter most to their brand. To acquire users and game downloads, games marketers can leverage mobile app install ads, lead ads, and extend their campaigns using the Audience Network. But engagement and loyalty are what ultimately drives the gaming industry, and games marketers can retain their most valuable players with mobile app engagement ads, leveraging custom and lookalike audiences to reach gamers who are most likely to re-engage with a game.
What does this open up for game publishers and developers?
Our goal is to enable the world’s most creative publishers to tell stories in the most immersive, interactive, and engaging ways. The Live API puts tools in the hands of these publishers that help them connect with their audience in ways they’ve never been able to before. As publishers and developers are now showing us, great production and quality can be extremely interactive and engaging.
What does Facebook Login open for Blizzard fans who already use Battle.net or Twitch?
Using their Facebook account, players will be able to sign up for and log into games and pave the way for new social functionality in Blizzard games while highlighting Facebook as a platform of choice for sharing, viewing, and discussing AAA game content. Also, integrating Facebook Login allows Blizzard’s players to find friends to form teams and coordinate strategy together.
What does Facebook’s Live API open up for eSports?
ESports is just one part of what we call FB Live Game Streaming. If you think about it, eSports is professional, competitive gameplay. There are many creators, people and games that are outside of this mold, and we want to be sure they all have the opportunity to find an audience—whether that’s their closest friends or millions of followers. It’s still the very early days for us in these areas, and we do not have any plans or details to share at this time. We believe the most important thing to think about is building incredible experiences for people to enjoy.
How do you see Facebook’s Live API impacting general fans sharing their in-game exploits with friends?
It’s still early days for us, so we’ll have to see how Live Game Streaming continues to grow on the Facebook platform. We think it’s important that both players and game makers have a great experience.