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Facebook Gaming launches Tournaments

Facebook Gaming is launching a feature today meant to bring people together virtually while they can’t be in the same place physically. It’s called Tournaments, and it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Tournaments will let users create and organize virtual tournaments in a variety of formats, from double elimination to round-robin, and it appears to be intended to mitigate some of the strain of social distancing. (Interestingly, Tournaments was originally designed for live gaming events.)

The product is intended for every kind of tourney, from casual to high-level esports play. It’s also built directly into the Facebook Gaming platform itself, which means that creators can host fan tournaments and stream them, too. They can even take advantage of Facebook’s fundraising tools to donate any money raised directly to relief organizations.

Tournaments is debuting in early access. Twitch and the other large streaming platforms don’t have anything quite like this built into their platforms — with the exception of Twitch Rivals, although that’s geared toward streamers and pros in that it’s invite-only — and it remains to be seen whether they’ll develop similar features for their massive, currently cooped-up user bases. I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar announcements soon.

Even so, like the other live-streaming platforms it’s competing with, Facebook Gaming has had a pretty good year so far. According to data from Streamlabs, a live-streaming software and analytics provider, the platform has experienced huge growth year over year: its hours watched tripled, and its hours streamed doubled, a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.