A brand originally designed for sending nudes is now going to be used to do the one mobile phone activity that is probably the furthest thing from sending nudes. From sharing illicit photographs to cracking highscores on the go. We’ve come so far.
For a while, Snapchat has been lightly experimenting in the gaming space. After a few little test runs, half of the app’s AR face filters are now dedicated to games, accessed by scrolling left rather than right when a user first turns on the AR mode with their front-facing camera. These games may be silly and one-dimensional, but many of them are backed by third-party sponsors and a key feature of their function is the most important part of what makes gaming on social media apps so effective: The ability to share high scores and create competition between friends. Having a group of teenagers fighting for who can catch the highest number of Coca-Cola bottles by moving their eyebrows in 30 seconds might sound exceptionally stupid, but it’s bound to keep the soda brand in their minds for the next few days.
If these minigames have been experiments, they’ve apparently been quite successful. According to a report from Android Headlines, Snapchat will be looking to expand further into the mobile gaming sphere sometime later this year.
While the full nature of these games is still unknown, the report states that Snapchat wants to create a platform open to any third-party developer that wants to create a game using their system. The games will be larger, and more akin to full-fledged social media games like those of Facebook Messenger, and will also feature all the regular social sharing functions that social gamers are already familiar with. Last year, Snap acquired British startup PlayCanvas, a development team specializing in mobile games and mobile game creation software, but their involvement has not yet been confirmed.
It is equally unclear how Snapchat will attempt to differentiate itself from Facebook Messenger, which currently maintains a fairly dominant hold on the ‘social media gaming’ market. If Snapchat wishes these games to be more complete experiences than it’s current lineup of titles, we can’t imagine them sticking with their current face-controlled format that requires you to wiggle your eyebrows, mouth or head to interact. While these options are neat for a few seconds, our eyebrows don’t have infinite energy. Playing games like these for more than a few minutes at a time would be downright exhausting.
From the details given and hinted at in the report, it seems as if this platform will be Snap’s first expansion off of the primary “Snapchat” app. This will also present a rather large leap for the platform’s consumers, as one of the selling points of Snapchat has always been the low time investment required to be considered an “active” Snapchat user. Unlike Instagram’s focus on breathtaking photography and interesting captions, or Facebook and Twitter’s focus on posts with lots and lots of words, Snapchat essentially places a hard cap of sixty seconds as the maximum amount of time a person can spend on a single post. It’s unclear how the marketing heads of Snapchat expect a series of involved social media game experiences to factor into their noncommittal audience, but we remain open to being proven wrong.
Snapchat’s gaming platform drops later this year with a small host of third-party titles that is expected to expand quickly once word gets out. This will be the first ‘addon’ app for a social media platform that is dedicated entirely to playing minigames, and an interesting new direction for the Snapchat brand.