Thanks to Facebook, gamers can play everywhere now – even while waiting for someone to text back. Today, Messenger became a complete mobile gaming platform featuring classic popular games such as Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders, Words With Friends and others. Instant Games launches today in 30 countries including the U.S., with games from classic developers like Bandai Namco, Konami, and Taito as well as new studios like Zynga and King. Facebook Instant Games is a new HTML5 gaming platform that lets Facebook users play games on Messenger and in the Facebook News Feed anytime, without downloading anything. Instant Games are also cross-platform, so they are going to work on both the web and mobile.
The service was launched today in a closed beta with 17 games in total and According to the Facebook’s director of global games partnerships, they are still looking for a perfect mix of classic games and new titles. “We’re going to find out as time goes by what works on the platform,” he says. Facebook already has some experience in adding games to apps like Messenger: during Match Madness, in fact, Facebook hid a secret basketball game in their messaging service. But their Instant Games is a more focused effort to make the pick-up-and-play with friends experiences an important part of the whole platform.
Wonder how to start playing?
You’ll be able to find and access these mini games in many ways. Messenger will now has a controller icon in its main menu that brings up titles you can play, while the main Facebook app will feature a special bookmark so you can easily access games you’ve already played as well as new titles. But one of the main ways you’re likely to discover new games is of course through your friends. Players will be encouraged to share high scores and achievements with their friends via the News Feed, who can immediately jump in and give any game a try. The best part is that you and your friends compete asynchronously via high scores instead of directly at the same time, so you can try your luck any time.
Obviously, Facebook hopes some friendly competition will get you to spend more time in Messenger. They even tried it before by building an HTML5 game platform called Project Spartan in 2011, but it didn’t work out because the mobile web standard at that time wasn’t powerful enough. Luckily, developers have figured out how to squeeze better graphics and responsive gameplay out of HTML5. You won’t be playing 3D epics on Messenger – not yet- but 80s arcade classics, puzzles, and retro games work just fine.
For the past few years, Facebook is really focused on gaming and Instant Gaming is just a part of their big plan. For instance, the company just launched a dedicated PC gaming platform called Gameroom all while making Facebook Live an important streaming tool built into every Blizzard game. “Each component addresses a different point in someone’s daily experience,” Olebe says of the various projects. “We want to meet gamers where they are.”