Facebook Introduces AR Games for Messenger

By Tracey Dowdy

This week Facebook followed through with its promise of adding AR (Augmented Reality) games to its Messenger app. The games are similar to Snapchat’s multiplayer games that use your camera to animate your face in real-time during a Messenger video chat.

“Asteroids Attack” and “Don’t Smile” are the first two to be released, with new games including “Beach Bump” and “Kitten Kraze” rolling out over the next several weeks.

Each game can be played by up to six people within in a single chat. Play is very simple. Open a chat and tap the star icon at the bottom of the screen. Available games are displayed and users simply tap the icon of the game to be played.

“Don’t Smile” is exactly what you think – the first person to smile has their face turned into a joker-like cartoon grin and the opponent gets the win. In “Asteroids Attack,” you perch a 3D spaceship on the tip of your nose and dodge asteroids as you fly through space, powering up with laser beams as you go. You can grab screenshots and post them to the chat while you play.

The games are not quite as robust as Snapchat’s offerings. Snapchat’s “Snappables” fill the screen, while Facebook overlays the AR graphics on the user’s face or background of the shot and are intentionally designed for split-screen multiplayer use. The AR games are a separate entity from Facebook Messenger’s Instant Games platform, which allows users to play arcade classics like Tetris alongside new games users can play alone and then challenge their friends to beat their high-scores.

As of now, there are no in-app purchases, ads or sponsor branding but it’s unlikely that Facebook will leave such a valuable potential revenue stream untapped. Facebook brought in $33.84 billion in ad revenue worldwide between 2014 to 2018. And, because Facebook acquired Instagram back in 2012, it’s likely that at some point over the next several months they’ll start rolling out versions of these AR games for that platform as well, especially since Instagram’s 2018 ad revenues are projected to come in at roughly $6.84 billion U.S. dollars.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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