iOS’ and Android’s app stores have long-dominated the mobile gaming landscape, but 2017 might see them usurped by messenger-based platforms.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced the global launch of Instant Games, a mobile gaming service that sidestepped the app store and released a catalogue of titles through Facebook Messenger. The intention was to give users a way to pass the time between sending and receiving messages, as well as making it easier for them to play with their friends. With smartphone users spending more of their time in messaging apps than another other service. It made sense to capitalise upon their popularity. Now, independent mobile games developers are picking up on the trend.
“Messaging as a platform is going to be huge – hell, it’s already huge,” Mark Ettle, CEO of Dundee-based Cobra Mobile told DIGIT. “The audience is already completely at ease inside whatever messaging environment, and now the content is following on to that.”
Cobra Mobile have already developed a number of titles for Apple’s iMessage service. Their latest release, Cobi Shoot, is a fun and addictive arcade shooter designed to tide over the wait between sending a message and receiving a response.
“When smartphones arrived they needed content to keep the users engaged,” Mark explained. “Now that messaging has overtaken voice as the primary communication driver in today’s socially interconnected world, that audience have a need for content to play in-between the delay of sending and receiving.”
Companies like Facebook are also hoping to use messenger-based mobile gaming to ensure the longevity of their services. The more they can offer to a user, the more likely they are to hold their attention.
“It’s easy to see messaging as a platform on top of a platform and that’s where new opportunities will rise. iOS 11, for example, has even better messages integration and the UI is more focused on content interaction. What’s interesting is that all the main players are looking at ways to make their messaging offerings more sticky and to give users more reason to hang out – they are using games to drive that.”
Cobra Mobile have identified messaging as an area for significant potential, with the trend only expected to continue as more and more industries, ranging from from travel to food delivery, migrate their digital services away from app-based platforms. Their newest titles are designed to capture this growth, developed with messenger-based, rather than app-based, gameplay in mind.
“Our messaging game roadmap has us very focused on small, highly fun game titles that are great to play in short blasts, and that also have a great social hook so you will want to challenge your friends and show off your score.” Mark explained. “Obviously the social nature of messaging games means that if they’re any good, they generate their own ‘virality.’”