Facebook announces new esports service, Facebook Tournaments

Facebook continues to probe esports and streaming in search of a pathway into the industries. Its latest experiment is simply called “Tournaments.”

Facebook Tournaments is a new service that will allow gamers to organize tournaments in a variety of different formats. It’s designed to be a tool for both casual players and those at the professional level. Tournaments is integrated into the Facebook Gaming platform, the live streaming service that Facebook hopes to build up as a competitor to industry leader Twitch.

Facebook Tournaments is currently in its infancy, but the service is already functional on Facebook as of this writing.

“We’re excited to open early access to Facebook Gaming tournaments, a feature to help people stay connected through games. Gaming is all about friendly competition, and Facebook Gaming tournaments help bring that experience to everyone wherever they are, whatever game they’re playing,” Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook Tournaments and attempt to break into esports, gaming

Facebook is a pioneer of social media based on its popularity with college students in the early 2000s. The years since have seen its trendiness dull, however. Facebook has struggled to gain traction as a video streaming or live streaming platform despite numerous attempts and courtship of a number of different demographics.

Facebook tried to break into the esports market in 2018 by entering into a partnership with ESL for Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive content. This saw Facebook become the exclusive broadcast partner for a number of notable tournaments, something that was met with resistance by both fanbases for a multitude of reasons. This was part of a larger push by Facebook that also included deals with various sporting entities including PGA, MLB, and WWE.

ESL’s partnership with Facebook lasted less than a year, which saw Facebook seemingly pause its efforts to court gamers. Things picked back up in 2019 when Facebook announced it had come to terms for an exclusive streaming deal with Jeremy "DisguisedToast" Wang, which was followed by a similar partnership with Gonzalo "ZerO" Barrios. This suggested a renewed commitment to Facebook Gaming from the site, with the announcement of Facebook Tournaments speaking to this further.

Facebook Gaming has already achieved significant market penetration in some parts of the world, particularly in Asia. The company will hope that Facebook Tournaments can further its hold elsewhere.

Whether Facebook Tournaments is something gamers really utilize is a different matter.

Though there is certainly some use for a bracket creation service, there is no shortage of options for this. Embedding it directly into the platform hasn’t been done by Twitch or other live streaming platforms, but this isn’t likely to result in a mass adoption of Facebook Gaming.

The big question here is whether Facebook Tournaments marks a revival of Facebook’s efforts to attract an esports audience.

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