Snapchat maker Snap officially launched its gaming platform at its first partner summit in Los Angeles Thursday, unveiling a six titles from companies like Zynga and ZeptoLabs, and also laying the groundwork for a bigger focus on social gaming.
“Last year, mobile gaming was a $77 billion industry,” said Snapchat product director Will Wu Thursday. However, Wu contended that most of those games weren’t easily shareable. “It’s hard to get everybody to install the same game, then find friends to play with, and it’s hard to chat,” he said. “There’s way too much friction.”
Snap’s answer is a HTML5-based gaming platform that makes it possible to play games right within Snapchat. Games are accessible from a new rocket button within the app’s group chat, and will launch directly in the app, without the need for any further downloads or sign-ups. Players can chat with each other in real-time via text chat, and also directly talk to each other via voice.
To kickstart the launch of games on Snapchat, and to demonstrate the capabilities of the platform, Snap built a title of its own in-house: Bitmoji Party, a series of mini games that uses Snapchatter’s Bitmojis as their avatars. A video preview shown to press showed Bitmoji competing in what can best be described as “American Ninja Warrior”-type challenges.
Bitmoji Party can be played by up to 8 Snapchatters at the same time, with users inviting their friends to participate. The game also supports a spectator mode, allowing up to 24 additional users to watch and cheer via group chat.
Other games available at launch are:
- “Alphabear Hustle” from Spry Fox, which is a collaborate take on “Words With Friends.”
- “C.A.T.S. (Crash Arena Turbo Stars) Drift Race” from ZeptoLab, a multiplayer racing game.
- “Snake Squad” from Game Closure, which has been described as a multiplayer battle-royale game.
- “Tiny Royale” from Zynga, a shoot-and-loot battle royale game.
- “Zombie Rescue Squad” from PikPok, which lets Snapchatters survive the zombie acapolypse together.
Snap executives told reporters this week that they were very selective about the launch partners of its games platform, with a goal of emphasizing quality over quantity. The company has no plans to open up its games platform to every developer any time soon.
There also won’t be any in-app purchases at launch, with Snapchat instead using ads for monetization, but with a twist: Instead of forcing commercials down everyone’s throat, ads are being integrated on an opt-in basis, according to executives.
Game developers may for instance offer players a chance to receive boosts, or in-game currency, in exchange for watching an ad break. Company representatives didn’t rule out adding in-game purchases over time, stressing repeatedly that this was just the beginning for gaming on Snapchat.
Games on Snapchat launched worldwide Thursday, but the company is looking to roll it out in stages to make sure its servers don’t go down as Snapchatters start to battle each other’s Bitmoji. Snap’s plans to launch its games platform were first reported by Cheddar last month.