Don't shoot the messenger: Facebook asks game developers to trust its Messenger platform
Facebook wants to bring games to Messenger.
The Information reports that Facebook is having "active conversations" with developers to establish Messenger, which was pulled out of the core Facebook service in March, as another platform through which they can distribute games.
Much of the company's plans haven't been revealed. It's not clear when games will debut on Messenger, how Facebook intends to woo developers to another platform, or whether the games will exist inside Messenger or apart from it.
But it's not hard to see why Facebook would want game developers to support Messenger. Games are important to all platforms, and they've become crucial to mobile platforms like Android or iOS, where they're the kings of the app stores.
Messenger also has something else going for it: It's not Facebook, not exactly anyway.
Most people are familiar with the dangers of relying on Facebook for any meaningful revenues. The company is capricious, its algorithms even more so, and a rags-to-riches tale can be reversed with just a couple of keystrokes.
It's hard to imagine Messenger operating the same way. The platform is built on people directly communicating with each other instead of sharing things to the abyss and hoping that Facebook's algorithms deliver them to the right person.
Which means it's also perfect for helping games spread via word-of-mouth. If Messenger is built right into the game -- or better yet, the game only exists in Messenger -- it will be easy for interested players to share it with their friends.
Then, of course, the usual tricks of drawing revenues from "free" games can take hold. And this time game developers won't have to worry about things disappearing from the News Feed, or people moving from PCs to smartphones.
Game developers aren't being asked to trust Facebook. It would be foolish for the company to attempt that, given how the poster child of social gaming has ended up, so it's not even trying. It's asking them to trust Messenger instead.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]