Facebook has been at the forefront of several controversies off late. While its platform has been used to spread Fake News around the world, it has also sold private user information to third-party organizations. Both of these reasons have driven several users to boycott the social media giants. The dispute also saw Facebook’s stock drop by 18%, accruing a loss of $119 billion in one single day. It’s no wonder, that Facebook has taken drastic steps to ensure its users stay happy and content. In its latest attempt, Facebook has rolled out two Augmented Reality (AR) based games on its messenger platform, with news of two more to arrive soon.
Messenger is one of Facebook’s most used platforms. It lets users indulge in text or video chats with people on their friend list. In 2017, there were more than 17 billion video chats on the platform, doubling its tally from 2016. In 2017, the company launched the Messenger Instant Games, which allowed users to play arcade classics and new mobile games by themselves and also challenge friends over high-scores.
Taking inspiration from Snapchat’s Snappables, which released in April 2018, Facebook has now launched two AR-based games on its messenger platform. The first of them, “Don’t Smile”, lets up to six users compete on who can hold a serious face the longest. If the app detects a grin, it uses AR to contort the face of the loser into a Joker-like smirk. The second game, “Asteroids Attack”, determines which players are better at navigating spaceships using their nose. It uses AR to move a spaceship using a user’s face, in an attempt to avoid rocks and grab laser beams to power up.
With these two AR-based games, Facebook has developed an effective way to keep a video chat going by letting users pass time. People, who aren’t good conversationalists, can now use the games to indulge in prolonged face to face time with friends and family.
Two new AR games are set to be added in the upcoming weeks, including Beach Bump, which allows players to pass a beach ball to and fro, and Kitten Kraze, a matching cat game. Facebook users don’t require to install an extra app to play such games – just a mere update of the Messenger app will do the trick.
Facebook has not shown a desire to monetize the AR games at the moment, in the form of ads, sponsored branding or in-app purchases. Nonetheless, outside developers can earn money by showing ads in between game rounds, promoting movie releases or product launches, letting users buy powerups to beat their friends. Instant Games, now allows developers to include in-app purchase and ads and could foreshadow what could happen with AR games with time.
Apple has been instrumental in bringing AR to mobile devices, with the launch of its Apple X. Along with Snapchat’s Snappables, Facebook has now joined in on the AR craze. While the games might entice users to indulge more face time on video chats, they need to evolve and come up with their indigenous idea to stay in the highly competitive game.