Facebook is looking to provide gaming streamers with more revenue and promotional opportunities through an expansion of its Stars viewer donation tools, and new in-stream ads for gaming live-streams.
And if past examples are anything to go by, a lot of these options eventually migrate into Facebook's other creator monetization offerings - so you may well see these tools also appearing in other Facebook surfaces very soon.
First off, on the expansion of Stars - with more viewers looking to watch game streams after the original broadcast, Facebook is now testing the ability for viewers to send Stars while watching gaming VOD content.
As explained by Facebook:
"Stars are already a powerful way for viewers to support live creators, and we want to bring this fan support experience to VOD too. Stars for VOD is currently pilot testing with a small group of creators, with hopes to roll out more broadly soon."
Facebook's been looking to expand the use of Stars in gaming streams, with discounted Stars packages and new, animated virtual gifts that can be allocated during a broadcast. That provides more ways for viewers to engage with their favorite streamers, while also boosting the revenue potential for the creators themselves, giving them more incentive to keep posting to Facebook.
Allocating Stars in retrospect likely won't have the same appeal, in that you won't be able to get the streamers' attention with your gift, but by providing the opportunity for fans to make donations if they choose, that can only help to facilitate more donation activity, benefiting creators overall.
And Facebook's looking to expand those revenue opportunities even further with new ad breaks within streams.
"We’re testing Live Breaks, a new form of mid-roll ads for gaming creators in our partner program to earn money and keep viewers entertained while taking a short break. Live Breaks are manually-triggered 30-, 90-, or 150-second mid-roll ad breaks that incorporate a mixture of standard mid-roll video ads and creator-generated or viewer-generated content such as highlights and clips of amazing plays or curated calls to action for your viewers."
It's another way for streamers to enhance that direct connection, and generate income from their Facebook efforts, utilizing gaps in their broadcasts to better effect.
Finally, Facebook's also expanding its 'Level Up' game streamer access program to creators in more regions.
"Our Level Up Program is the first stop on the career path as a Facebook Gaming creator and provides creators with initial tools to jumpstart their communities and begin earning from their content. To provide more creators around the world with access to the program, we recently expanded Level Up to the following regions: Hong Kong, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Ukraine and Venezuela. We want to help make livestreaming accessible to as many people as possible, and the global expansion of Level Up is a great way to do that."
Streamers who sign up to the Level Up program can access Facebook Stars and fan subscriptions, while they also get customized support and beta access to new Facebook Gaming features.
Gaming has become a bigger focus for Facebook over time, and it's gradually gaining market share as it looks to compete with the big players in the sector, in YouTube and Twitch. Last year, StreamLabs reported that Facebook Gaming surpassed a billion hours watched for the first time, and while it's still a long way off the other two, Microsoft's decision to shut down its gaming platform Mixer, along with the pandemic, has helped Facebook continue to boost its presence and appeal to certain sectors of the gaming community, who will no doubt be happy to have more opportunities for monetization.
Which could be how Facebook eventually solidifies its offering. Facebook has more reach than Twitch, and if it can also provide greater revenue potential, that could become a strong lure for more creators to migrate across, especially as Twitch continues to be connected to controversy around 'hot tub streams' and the shifting focus of the platform.
If Twitch is going to become more general interest-focused, then why not stream on Facebook or YouTube instead - and with gaming playing a key connective and community role for the next generation of consumers, it's an important element for Facebook to focus on, as a means to maintain relevance, and tie into the next phase of its VR evolution.
So while it may still be a relatively small element right now, it is a key focus, while as noted, the features that begin in Facebook Gaming also tend to merge over into other creator tools, so you could see more of these monetization tools in other applications shortly.