Wed, Jun 08, 2016 - Page 14 News List

Facebook enters eSports arena with Blizzard deal

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Facebook on Monday announced that it is getting into the eSports game, jumping into the field of video games as spectator sports against Amazon.com Inc-owned Twitch and Google’s YouTube Gaming.

Later this month, people are to be able to use Facebook accounts to log in to Blizzard Entertainment Inc computer games such as World of Warcraft.

The move is to pave the way for Blizzard game fans to use the leading social network’s Live video service to broadcast play in real time, the companies said in a joint release.

California-based Blizzard, owned by video game publisher Activision Publishing Inc, is in the process of creating a “Go Live” feature that would let players stream on-screen action to Facebook timelines, according to the companies.

Blizzard games in line for the Facebook streaming capability included freshly released Overwatch.

The collaboration is to add social features to Blizzard games, while highlighting Facebook as a platform for sharing, viewing and discussing play, the companies said.

“Our collaboration on Overwatch demonstrates Facebook’s commitment to partnering with AAA game companies, while further empowering Blizzard gamers to connect and share the content they’re most passionate about with the friends they play with around the world,” Facebook global games director Leo Olebe said.

Overwatch is a team-based shooter played online.

Facebook earlier this year ramped up its challenge to Twitter Inc-owned Periscope with upgrades to the social network’s live video broadcasting feature.

A new featured was added to the Live streaming feature at Facebook to let people broadcast to groups on the social network or in scheduled events.

Facebook Live launched in the middle of last year and was initially limited to celebrities, but recently opened to a wider audience of broadcasters.

Getting into the eSports game would pit Facebook against heavyweight rivals, including pioneering firm Twitch and popular online video sharing service YouTube, owned by Google parent Alphabet Inc.

Yahoo Esports launched about two months ago as an online venue for live tournaments, commentary, features, interviews and more tailored for the booming trend of video games as spectator sports.

The rollout of YouTube Gaming in the middle of last year marked the public debut of an online spot where video game lovers can find commentary, live play, on-demand snippets and more.

The online arena for video game channels incorporates the search smarts of Google to surface fresh or must-see content.

US online retail giant Amazon snatched up Twitch and its huge audience for live-streamed gaming in 2014.

The acquisition was one of the largest in Amazon’s history — US$970 million in cash for the three-year-old Internet company.

Twitch streams games being played for non-playing viewers to watch and hosts gaming events.

It allows viewers to chat with the players and others, lending it some of the qualities of social networking Web sites, and it also sells advertising to generate income.

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