Facebook has launched a new gaming feature in the UK which allows players to organise and run video game tournaments from the social network.
The tech giant said the Tournaments feature will allow anyone to organise a competition with friends and live-stream it on the platform, with results managed virtually.
The social network said the feature had been initially intended as a tool to support larger live gaming events and tournaments, but has been adapted to be accessible to more users to boost connectivity while coronavirus social-distancing measures are in place.
It said the new system had fundraising tools built in and so could be used to organise tournaments which raise money for charitable causes.
Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app, said: “With everything happening in the world right now, games help people connect while entertaining themselves.
“From virtual spaces where people play together to a new tournament platform for friendly competition, we create products to help people keep connecting.
“Right now, that seems more important than ever.”
Facebook said the new feature was still “early access” and could still be developed further following feedback from users.
Online tournaments and video game streaming have become increasingly popular in recent years, sparking the launch of hugely popular platforms such as Twitch, while established video sites such as YouTube now also offer features aimed at gaming streamers.
This, in turn, has helped support the rise of professional, competitive gaming – better known as e-sports.
It is estimated to generate more than one billion dollars (£809 million) a year as an industry, with events watched by more than 450 million people.