Facebook launched Instant Games on its Messenger platform earlier this year with 20 games. It’s since grown its library to 70, including arcade classics like Tetris as well as modern scrolling shooters BlackStorm Labs’s EverWing. And starting today, you’ll be able to livestream your sessions. Facebook also announced today that games such as Rovio Entertainment’s Angry Birds will be joining the Instant Games platform next year, along with integrated video chat in multiplayer games starting with Zynga’s Words with Friends.
“We know that video is extraordinarily important to discovering and sharing,” said Facebook’s global director of games partnerships Leo Olebe. “We wanted to make sure to tap into that and give our users the chance to show off the games they’re playing and the games they’ve fallen in love with.”
When you go live in an Instant Game, it begins streaming to your Facebook page. Once you go offline, it stays posted so that folks who missed it can still re-watch it. Though people will be able to like and comment on the broadcast, you won’t see any emoji floating across the screen as you do in live event streams.
“Right now we’ve decided that we don’t want to interrupt gameplay,” said Messenger’s product manager Mike Weingert. “It’s a bit of a different use case than when you’re streaming an event. Basically, at the top left hand corner, we show that there are likes and reactions and emojis coming in, but we don’t actually send them across the screen.”
Though Facebook doesn’t have specific plans to court broadcasters who are livestreaming on platforms like Twitch, Olebe says that it’s not a stretch to think that influencers may want to give it a spin to create a social gaming experience with their audience.
“I absolutely believe that the streaming community, the influencer community, will have the opportunity to see this as something they want to pick up on,” said Olebe. “They may not. Who knows? But fundamentally, sharing the games you love with the people [who] you care about is, first and foremost—if somebody has a community, whether that’s five or 10 or a thousand people, ten thousand, a million, they’re sharing the games they love with the people they care about, which is their community.”
Next year, Instant Games will be adding Angry Birds along with Sega’s Sonic Jump, Disney’s Tsum Tsum, and a new version of GungHo Online’s Puzzles & Dragons. It will also roll out a multiplayer mode with video on Messenger, which Facebook reports 245 million people use to make video calls every month. Two players can enter a game together through a video call, and then play together while their face cams are still displayed in the upper right corner. This feature will at first only be available in Words with Friends.
“In between having a pretty amazing year of going from just an idea to a stable, viable, expanding platform that’s full of fun to getting some pretty big and exciting games on the platform, launching new features like live streaming, as well as group video gameplay—it’s been a lot of fun,” said Olebe. “It’s been a good year.”
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