As it seeks to tap into the growing, and lucrative, gaming market, Facebook's taking a significant step towards giving gaming content more focus, by introducing a new, dedicated gaming tab in the main navigation bar of the app.
As you can see here, the new tab - accessible via a puzzle-looking icon - will give users access to a range of game content.
As explained by TechCrunch:
"After clicking the new Gaming tab, there will be a feed of content that points to instant games you can play with friends, videos to watch from top streamers, esports organizations and game publishers; and updates from your various gaming groups.".
It's worth noting that not all users will get access to the new gaming tab. Facebook says that more than 700 million of its users engage with games or gaming content on the platform. Initially, a selection of those 700 million people will get access to the tab, with Facebook assessing the potential of a further roll-out from there.
The move highlights the significance of Facebook's gaming ambitions - within the last year, Facebook has added a Gaming Creator program to help provide more opportunities for game broadcasters, live-stream tipping to enable those broadcasters to monetize their streams and an additional revenue option, called 'Stars', for game broadcasters who are part of its more advanced 'Level Up' program.
Given the popularity of games on Facebook, the focus makes sense, while global esports revenue is also projected to top $1.07 billion this year, another opportunity for Facebook to take a piece of yet another market, and maximize its revenue opportunities, using its massive scale as a lure for gaming creators.
That appears to be the same tactic that YouTube's now using - after launching a dedicated YouTube Gaming app back in 2015, it shut the project down last year, opting instead to focus on maximizing its reach via its main platform to fend off the challenge from game-dedicated (and Amazon-owned) platform Twitch. Both Facebook and YouTube have a lot more users overall (Twitch claims to serve more than 15 million unique daily visitors, who spend an average of 95 minutes daily on the platform), but Twitch's specific focus on gaming content has made it a winner for many creators - but it will face a challenge if Facebook's gamble of putting gaming up front pays off, and prompts more audience interest.
Interestingly, the announcement comes amid another management shake-up at Facebook, with senior executives Chris Cox and Chris Daniels deciding to move on from The Social Network. Those decisions would unlikely be linked to Facebook's gaming push, but they do signal a time of change at the company, a re-focus on new elements, as Facebook looks to re-position itself and its offerings in line with changing usage and evolving public perception.
In that process, it makes sense for Facebook to try out new layouts and formats dedicated to different user behaviors - and if it works, if it gets users across, as noted, there's a lot of money in esports and gaming content.
There's a lot of opportunity, if Facebook can get it right.