Facebook Messenger Launches In-App Games to Take on Apple

November 8, 2016 - 2 minutes read

It sometimes seems like Facebook gets a cut of virtually every market these days, from media to communication. One market they’ve had trouble breaking into, however, is the mobile gaming industry — particularly ironic, for anybody that’s tired of getting Farmville requests from vague acquaintances. With the launch of “Instant Games” within the Messenger app, the tech giant seems to be looking to change that, and introducing a big potential opportunity for startups and HTML5 app developers.

While the feature is currently in trial only in limited audiences (including some confirmed instances in New Zealand), it’s expected to launch for the mainstream in coming months. App developers in the area have posted interesting screenshots of simple two-player games that seem appropriate for a Messenger context. San Diego app developers will have to wait at least a couple weeks to take a hands-on look at the feature.

The games will benefit from the same speed of loading and native user experience that made Instant Articles a success. As the name suggest, keeping assets local within Facebook gives the company’s app developers control of the content, as well as control of how that content is loaded and presented.

Classic arcade fans will find some amusement in the traditional style of many HTML5 games, which could become a huge app development opportunity outside the traditional iOS/Android frameworks if Facebook is successful in monetizing the Instant Games feature.

It’s also interesting the imagine how users will interact with games designed natively into a messenger app, rather than in the full-featured Facebook suite. Screenshots from test areas show invitations and some limited gameplay features existing within word bubbles, and hints at the future Facebook sees for a thriving message-based economy like that of WeChat or Line.

Needless to say, incorporating so many critical features into a single app will take opportunities away from some startups. However, partnerships between Facebook and HTML5 developers could create some unique opportunities for what has been so far a slow-to-grow technology, even on the web.

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