Editorial: Facebook Gaming is a Cesspool

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced they were shutting down Mixer and migrating the service over to Facebook Gaming. Partnered streamers on Mixer were promised the same status if they migrated over to Facebook gaming, but as of right now, none of those streamers are scrambling to make the switch.

That’s for good reason, too, as Facebook Gaming is a cesspool they are not going to want to have their names attached to.

As a platform, it is rife with issues, the most obvious of which is the mining of user data to sell to third parties, as reported by the BBC. Facebook tracks a multitude of statistics, including who you talk to, what you talk about, what your interests are, and who you’re conducting business with. They categorize you based on your political affiliation, who you associate with, and what you’re currently into.

This would be harmless, except if you are a streamer, it will determine if they put you into a limited state or even potentially blacklist you. Before writing for One Angry gamer, I was giving streaming a shot. Unburdened by the delusion I’d ever be the next PewDiePie, I reasoned I could at least carve out a fun, humble niche audience and build my brand from there. Except when streaming, I’d often find myself with very little views regardless of what I was playing.

Eventually, I discovered Twitch placed me consistently dead last in categories, but Facebook was the worst offender. Views simply wouldn’t manifest. Even with promotion, it was a constant uphill battle to get any attention for any of 5+ hour stream. Then — and I can no longer remember what the political incident happen — Facebook got in trouble for censoring conservatives, which I’ve confirmed they’ve labeled me as.

Suddenly my feed became more active, and my stream for the day got over a thousand views. It was exciting, exhilarating to start seeing hard work pay off finally. The next day saw diminishing viewership, and before long, it returned to normal. That is when the realization Facebook picked winners and losers set in. The realization that because they had determined I was a conservative that I would never be allowed to be big.

Again I’m not delusional. I’ve run pages and blogs before, so I’m aware of what growth trajectories I should be experiencing. Not explosive, but a gradual slow growth as a person establishes their audience. The content was consistent, memes were quality, growth should have occurred, yet it was not.

I’m not the only one to have this issue. Facebook is currently experiencing another adpocalypse as companies demand they censor more speech. At least that is the guise being put up. Adpocalypses only occurs when advertisers realize their advertisements are not getting a return on investment. Facebook is infamous in the investment world for not providing a return on investment. They’re dying because people are not engaging with their advertisements, and that is what is occurring because of their censorship and limited state implementation.

For those unaware of what a limited state is, it is the level of censorship before blacklisting. With blacklisting, no one sees your content. It is almost immediately apparent that it’s happened as you will see your notifications go to zero in an instant. With limited state, few people see your content. You could have posts blow up with thousands of interactions, but you still won’t be put in people’s feeds unless they’re searching by new, or raw feed in Twitter’s case.

With limited state, you will only figure it out after observing a lack of growth and interactions over an extended period of time when compared to established patterns. YouTube’s limited state is a lot more conspicuous compared to Twitter and Facebook… mostly because YouTube outright tells you.

This is something that should be of grave concern for influential streamers. What if one day Facebook decides Ninja’s hot take is too spicy, or his behavior is not what they’re looking to promote? At first, they just de-rank him a bit; notifications fail to go out, and he doesn’t appear in people’s feeds.

Then it’s a death by a thousand cuts. Content creators the size of Ninja might be able to survive because of their established audience, but medium and small streamers will not. There is also the issue that Facebook makes you pay for your attention. If you do not buy their advertisements, your page notifications will be less consistent. Your reach will significantly diminish.

That’s not even before considering what happens to your subscribers. How inclined will people be to have their payment continue to go through when Facebook has decided to lock their account for being guilty of wrongthink? How long are they going to want to engage with the platform when their interactions don’t manifest, or Facebook discriminates against them for having the wrong political opinions?

Not long and for that reason, Facebook is one of the worst choices for streamers. Microsoft partnering with them was a huge mistake that they appear to have realized as they lose both streamers and adoption of their console. They’ve already attempted to course correct, but this is a decision that was short-sighted and foolish.

Had they waited to see if the Xbox Series X became the dominant platform, they could have parlayed its success to boost Mixer’s numbers thanks to their Xcloud integration. Instead, they hitched their brand to a dying social media platform whose age demographics are around 40.5 years old with fewer than 10% of its user base 17 and younger.

Not only are the demographics not in their favor, but Facebook’s data harvesting reputation has caused an unknown in scale exodus from the Xbox platform following the announcement to avoid having their data harvested. Microsoft has confirmed Facebook will not be permitted to harvest data from Xbox Users, but if they’re implementing Xcloud support, that is going to be challenging to prevent.

It will be interesting to see whether Microsoft continues this partnership or walks back abandoning Mixer. At this juncture, it is reasonably evident to Microsoft this was a poor decision. They’re going to lose several of their top streamers, which means no brand promotion, they’re going to lose customers who want nothing to do with Facebook, and this will go on to hamper the Xcloud roll out. As the kids are fond of saying, huge oof.