×

Gaming Is Coming Back to Facebook With Instant Games Developer Program Launch

Facebook is giving games another shot: The social network officially opened up its Instant Games platform to all developers Wednesday, allowing them to build and monetize games for the Facebook news feed and Facebook Messenger. This comes after Facebook first launched the platform in closed beta in late 2016.

Facebook’s Instant Games are essentially HTML-based game experiences, meaning that users don’t need to download and install any apps, and don’t need Flash or any other third-party plugins to run them. Users can find these games on Messenger via the game controller icon; Facebook also introduced a dedicated games bookmark for players to revisit games that they have previously played.

Developers are able to monetize these games with Facebook ads, including video interstitials. In addition, Facebook is also testing in-app purchases for Instant Games. Advertising in particular seems to be working for developers of instant games, with game studio FRVR banking seven figures for ads running on the “Basketball FRVR” instant game, which has been played more than 4.2 billion times.

“As a game developer, it’s rare that you have an opportunity to reach more than 1 billion people the first day your game goes live,” said FRVR founder Chris Benjaminsen in a statement. “We knew an investment in Facebook’s Instant Games would pay off — and it certainly has.”

This isn’t the first time Facebook has dabbled in gaming on its platform. A decade ago, Facebook let game developers like Zynga distribute games including “Farmville” on its platform. “Farmville” quickly became a hit, bringing in hundreds of millions via in-game purchases. However, these Flash-based games didn’t run on mobile devices, and gaming on Facebook took a deep hit as its user base transitioned from desktop to mobile.

What’s more, many users were turned off by the spammy nature of many Facebook games, which flooded the news feed with updates and pestered players to invite their friends. With Instant Games, Facebook now looks to replace this type of viral marketing with a more traditional approach, offering developers dedicated ad units to drive audiences to their games.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Tiger King

    'Tiger King' Ranks as TV's Most Popular Show Right Now, According to Rotten Tomatoes

    Netflix has a tiger tale that has punched into the zeitgeist with “Tiger King,” stocked with a cast of real-life bizarre personalities and sinister plot twists. “Tiger Tale,” a true-crime-style docuseries that debuted March 20 on Netflix, ranks as the most popular current TV show, according to Rotten Tomatoes. It has a 97% critic’s rating [...]

  • Alex Jones

    Google Removes Infowars Android App From Online Store Over Coronavirus Misinformation

    Google on Friday removed the Android version of the Infowars app from the Google Play online store, after comments made by Infowars founder Alex Jones about the COVID-19 pandemic were deemed false and harmful. Google Play was that last major internet platform that provided an outlet for Infowars, which trades in right-wing conspiracy theories and [...]

  • Van Weezer

    Weezer Debuts Online Video Game as Throwback to Simpler Times -- And Album Promo

    Eight-bit diehards, get your thumbs ready: pop rock darlings Weezer have launched a nostalgia-heavy online side-scrolling action game, playable via web browsers.  The “The End of the Game” game has users playing as one of the band’s four members and jumping and shooting their way in a (surprisingly difficult) boss fight against an oversized, beanie-clad [...]

  • Google-Mountain-View-Calif

    Google Commits $800 Million, Mostly in Ad Credits, to Coronavirus Relief Efforts

    Google and parent Alphabet are pitching in to help small businesses, health organizations and governments dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The internet company has earmarked more than $800 million for coronavirus relief, about three-fourths of which ($610 million) is in the form of Google Ad credits to small and midsize businesses and governmental orgs, Alphabet [...]

  • Why Are Music Streams Down If

    Why Are Music Streams Down If Everyone's Stuck at Home? Experts Weigh in

    While it might seem counterintuitive that music streams would decline at a time when so many Americans were ordered to stay home, data-savvy label executives were neither startled nor concerned by the 7.6% drop in plays that happened in the March 13-19 tracking week. Simply put, they say it’s down to focus on news and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content