What will be the Facebook killer? Well, right now it appears to be Facebook’s playing that role itself, but all kidding aside what does the future hold for online interpersonal connection? A strong argument could be made that the future of connecting online won’t center around sharing personal updates on what we have going on in our day-to-day lives but may instead center around gaming.
Gaming’s already an inherently social behavior. The space that was once dominated by single-player experiences has been usurped by multiplayer fare like Fortnite, PUBG and League of Legends. We can’t get enough of talking and playing with each other, and a whole social industry’s been built around this behavior.
There are 3.3 million unique broadcasters creating content for Twitch, and you can bet that at any given moment, there’s an average of 1,083,000 of the platform’s 100 million monthly active users watching that content for a combined 46 billion minutes per month. Today, Twitch has as many viewers as cable news, and most of that viewing is dedicated to watching people play video games and those streamers interacting with their viewers.
Fun When Everything’s Become Serious
The popularity in gaming and the rise in users sharing their gaming experiences should be of little surprise. Gaming and the interaction that comes with it is fun. And streaming celebrities like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek are charismatic enough to make watching someone play almost as much fun as playing yourself.
That really can’t be said about other social channels. Facebook is dealing with a slew of troubles right now as it works to eliminate the toxicity of its platform. Some solace in social connectivity can be found in messaging services like Snapchat, Messenger and Instagram, but even those are as good as what you put into them. They ask you to share and create. Games don’t ask for any of that. They’re invitations to play that just happen to allow you to connect with others at the same time.
It’s for that reason that Facebook and YouTube are working to make gaming more central to their platforms. Facebook’s Level Up program is all about recruiting gaming influencers and incentivizing them to stream on Facebook. YouTube has YouTube Gaming, a similar program designed to make YouTube the video hub for all things gaming.
These platforms see it. Gaming has an enthusiastic community that’s only growing thanks to the broadcasting of esports, games like Fortnite and high-profile, AAA releases like Red Dead Redemption. That’s a community built around fun, positivity and a different form of online personal connection than traditional social networks have allowed, but that may be exactly what people are looking for.