Snap Games is the latest addition to the Snapchat app as the company hopes to increase user engagement on the platform. With Snap Games though, the messaging app has adopted a tightly controlled and highly curated approach, by working with just a select few developers to create games for the platform.
Snap says the titles releasing on its app are all exclusive and original to Snapchat, and users won’t have to separately download any of these games from the App Store.These games will start rolling out globally to all markets starting today, though this will be a staggered release meaning not all countries will get the games immediately.
So what is this ‘gaming’ platform on Snapchat and exactly how will it work?
Snap Games: Exactly how will users play these games in the messaging app?
Snap Games will be part of the messaging or chat bar inside Snapchat. The chat bar at the bottom will now have a rocket symbol at the end, where these games can be accessed. A user will just have to tap on the rocket icon and the games section will open up. A user can choose from the six games that Snap has announced and start playing. They can also invite their friends to play the game with them at the same time.
Since a group Snapchat supports a maximum of 32 users (including the user who starts the chat), technically it would be possible for a game to support this number of players. Snap’s own in-house game Bitmoji party will support up to eight players.
Snap Games: What titles have been announced?
Snap Games will focus on adding real-time multiplayer gaming to the messaging app and a total of six titles have been announced. Snap has chosen the developers it will partner with to create these games. These developers include Game Closure, PikPok, Spry Fox, Zeptolab, and Zynga.
Bitmoji Party, a game developed by Snap, will bring the Bitmoji characters of the user and the friends to life in a 3D format and they will be able to play four mini games titled Pool Party, Kick Off, Spin Session, and Zombie Escape in this game.
Other titles are Alphabear Hustle by developer Spry Fox, which is a spinoff of the popular word puzzle game Alphabear. This version for Snapchat will have players trying to spell words together and try to build their own personal bear village.
Another game title is C.A.T.S. (Crash Arena Turbo Stars) Drift Race by ZeptoLab, which is a multiplayer racing game, with up to six players racing at the same time.
These are two Battle Royale style games as well. These are Snake Squad by Game Closure and Tiny Royale by Zynga. Users will have the option of playing the game with their friends or going solo. In Tiny Royale, the game will rely on quick two-minute rounds for users to loot and shoot their way to victory till only one player remains as the winner. Games like PUBG Mobile and even Fortnite have made the Battle Royale format quite popular, so it is interesting to see Snap try and bring this to its platform.
Finally, there’s a title called Zombie Rescue Squad by developer PikPok, where users will have team up with their friends to fight the zombie apocalypse.
Snap Games: Will there be other game titles in Snapchat?
Snap is going for a tightly-curated approach with its games and starting off with limited titles. All of these games are built on HTML5, but Snap has carefully chosen its partners. The approach might seem similar to Apple Arcade, which was announced last month by the iPhone maker, that will have paid titles in the App Store available at a premium subscription. Apple too has chosen the developers and titles it wants as part of the Arcade tab on the App Store.
With Snapchat, the games are all free to play, but will be multiplayer ones as the company hopes that users will play these with friends and thus drive app engagement as well. The company says it will add more titles in the coming months.
Snap Games: What will be revenue model for these?
Games will have advertisements in them. The six-second Snap advertisement format that appears between stories will also be part of games. Snap executives had said that the ads will not appear at crucial moments in the game, say when a user is about to shoot someone or win a crucial point in the game
Snap says they will offer monetisation opportunities for their game development partners, though it did not reveal how revenue share would be divided.
So what about in-app purchases? Snap is shunning that approach for now at least and says it will not offer this. In-app purchases are how many game developers make a lot of their revenue and right now, ads are the only option that is being offered to partners.
Snap Games: What’s the company trying to achieve here?
Snap is hoping to create social games, where users play with their friends with this new platform. Snap has already had some form of gaming in the platform with its Lens-based games, called Snappables. These Lenses (Snap’s name for its AR filters) rely on the smartphone’s camera in order for the user to play. With these new Snap Games, the company steps into a new territory, though it will likely be bringing its learnings from Snappables to this platform.
Social gaming is nothing new by itself, nor are games on HTML5. But Snap is trying to cash in on the growth of mobile gaming, which is expected to growth further, especially as we have seen the success of games like PUBG Mobile in a market like India.
Snap executives also talked about how they were excited by the success of Fortnite, which has proved to be a popular PC and console Battle Royale game. Snapchat will be adding elements like live chat via text, voice messages, etc to the games and a user will be able to send these in real-time. A simple way to imagine this is that you are playing a game and the group chat is also live.
The company’s core base is users from the ages of 13 to 34 years old, and adding gaming could be a new way of keeping this audience engaged on the platform.
Disclaimer: The author is in Los Angeles at the invite of Snap Inc.