×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Shady Side Of Facebook Gaming

For as long as video game streaming has been a thing, Twitch has been at the forefront. This service — now owned by Amazon — gained the first-mover advantage. In just a few years, it quickly became the de facto platform for those who wanted to watch other people play games online.

Facebook, on the other hand, has yet to really gain a foothold in the streaming world. Despite having one of the most visited websites in existence, Facebook has fumbled a few attempts at offering a service that targets gamers. Its latest, Facebook Gaming, appears to be one that has a better shot at succeeding. Unfortunately, the way Facebook has rolled out its gaming initiative has left a bad taste in the mouths of many.

Will Facebook ultimately prevail and build a solid Twitch competitor? Will gamers look past the company's more unsavory practices and give it a chance? Only time will tell. Until then, let's take a look at the shady side of Facebook Gaming.

Facebook Gaming lacks a 'streamer culture'

Facebook has built quite the empire since it launched way back in 2005. Despite the enormous amount of money it pulls in, however, and despite the fact that it boasts literally billions of users, some feel it's missing one thing on the streaming side: culture. With Twitch, you know what you're getting — a website where people play video games over a live video stream for others. Streamers know other streamers, and they regularly interact with one another. With Facebook, you're getting a whole lot of other stuff, and Facebook Gaming is somewhat lost in the mix.

On Reddit, one anonymous streamer who claimed they were offered a contract with Facebook Gaming put it like this: "There's no place where all streamers can get together and chit chat. There are various [F]acebook groups for content creators to discuss ideas and concepts, but even those feel 'weird.'" 

Facebook presumably wants a piece of the streaming arena Twitch currently dominates. If Facebook Gaming feels like a side project rather than a serious play at streaming, though, it'll continue to lack that streamer culture, won't be the first choice for talent, and thus won't see near the amount of success Twitch does.

Facebook's algorithm suppresses streams

Facebook's algorithm is all about showing you what it thinks you want to see. Sometimes it is dead-on accurate, bringing up a photo your family member posted that you'll want to comment on. Other times it goes a bit overboard, and it takes you viewing one slap contest compilation to mean you want to see lots more of that every time you log in.

If there's an area the algorithm appears to fall dramatically short, though, it is with live streams. When you, Facebook, have a streaming product called Facebook Gaming, that shortcoming is not great. As The Gamer put it, "A streamer may go live with their typical, planned stream, but users that follow would only be alerted gradually, a few at a time, and many may not even see that you are streaming until well after the end of a stream." 

Because Facebook has so much other stuff it wants to put in front of users — and because it doesn't prioritize live alerts for streams — a streamer can have tens of thousands of Facebook followers but end up with very few viewers as a result.

Facebook Gaming's customer service isn't great

If you plan on pursuing a career in game streaming, you'll likely want to feel some form of trust in the platform you stream on. More than that, it's likely you'll want that platform to be responsive about any issues you encounter. This is your potential livelihood on the line, right? If you somehow get bopped off your chosen platform because of some mistake, the money isn't just going to keep flowing in. That's a revenue channel that'll essentially be cut off until things are set straight.

Geektak wrote about such a situation, recounting a time when they had finally gotten their new Facebook Gaming stream up and running, only to be unceremoniously slapped with a ban out of nowhere. What was the ban for? Geektak isn't quite sure. They did find other instances, though, of other streamers also receiving bans from Facebook Gaming at the same time. As Geektak noted, Facebook failed to rectify the issue, despite numerous chats with customer support. A support ticket sat open for the entirety of their 30-day ban. Rather than try again, Geektak moved to Twitch instead. Not a good look for Facebook Gaming.

If you lose your Facebook Gaming account, your whole Facebook account goes with it

Some people have been Facebook users since the mid-2000s. Losing all of those photos and messages would be pretty devastating, right? That especially holds true if you have your Facebook account tied to some Facebook-adjacent products such as Instagram. If you ever lost your Facebook account, you could kiss all of those memories goodbye.

Perhaps streamer Freya Fox's experience can serve as a lesson then, because that's what nearly happened to her. After being offered a "monthly guaranteed contract" to stream for Facebook Gaming, Freya Fox was dropped as a partner about a year and a half later for "'suspicious' activity" she claimed was not of her doing. And that's when things really went south. Her personal Facebook page — which she had "for over 10 years with messages from now-deceased family members" — was wiped out. Her Instagram account and its "60k followers" was knocked off, too, though she did at least manage to get that back.

Facebook controls a lot. While you may be drawn to its huge user base and audience-building potential, keep in mind that one wrong step could cost you a lot more than a spot to stream.

Facebook Gaming has had some reliability issues

If you yearn to be a professional streamer, the first two steps are to choose a platform, and then start streaming. Once you build an audience, you need to keep on streaming in order to keep your audience and bring in new viewers. The more eyeballs you have, the higher your earning ceiling becomes. If you aren't able to stream because your platform of choice can't stay online, well, that's a problem.

Reddit user SK Gaming Fan lamented about Facebook's reliability in a post a few years back, mentioning that the streaming side of the service was "down every 15 minutes." Others in the thread — which was about watching ESL Counter-Strike matches on the platform — agreed, with one even saying they were "[watching] the Russian stream on mute for no other reason than the stream quality." Presumably, the Russian stream of the competition was broadcast on another platform.

Uptime and stream steadiness are two of the most important parts of a streaming service. If Facebook wants to have a prayer of dethroning Twitch, most would probably agree those need to be rock solid.

When it comes to the DMCA, Facebook only protects Partners

If you keep up with the streaming world, you may have heard the news about truckloads of DMCA notices aimed at Twitch streamers in 2020. These streamers played copyrighted music in the backgrounds of their broadcasts, and when the copyright holders came knocking, Twitch had to take some pretty drastic measures — such as deleting entire video histories — in order to fend them off. Facebook didn't want to get caught in a similar situation, so in Fall 2020, the company licensed a whole bunch of popular music for streamers on the platform to use. Sounds great, right?

This move really looks like a win for Facebook until you look at the fine print. As it turns out, all the licensing work Facebook did will only benefit its Facebook Gaming Partners. So while the most popular streamers on Facebook will be able to play all kinds of cool music, busting out the tunes while you aren't partnered could still lead to some legal jeopardy. If you're a new streamer on Facebook, this could look like something that'll help the already-partnered streamers stay elevated while you remain stuck on the bottom rung of the ladder.

The Facebook Gaming app needs work

At the very center of Facebook's whole new focus on gaming is an app that, quite appropriately, is called Facebook Gaming. Using this app, you can play games, find streamers to watch, and consume any other kind of video game-related content that pops up. Seeing as Facebook wants a bigger presence in all things gaming — hence the name of the product – you might assume the company would've done everything it possibly could to get this app right. Unfortunately, people haven't had great things to say about it.

Game Revolution offered what is perhaps the most scathing review of the Facebook Gaming app. According to that outlet, the user interface is "a total disaster," and "makes it extremely confusing to find content." Game Revolution noted in its piece that the Twitch app is fairly straightforward and makes getting to live streams a quick process. The Facebook Gaming app, on the other hand, asks you to tap on an ice cream cone icon for reasons that are unclear. After that, you're still a few taps away from finally seeing who is live on the platform. If you're a new streamer hoping to be discovered on Facebook Gaming, the app may not do you any favors.