Sophocles once said that “The greatest joy is the unexpected”. That’s why we’re extremely happy to see a trend like this growing more and more in popularity: “Instant messaging apps as a video game platform”. And we’re excited by this because it’s really just the tip of the iceberg that we’ve been predicting for a while now: that new web standards are turning the web into “the next gaming platform”. In this article, we’re going to analyze how HTML5 games are paving the way through an ecosystem that no one suspected at first: native apps, specifically, instant messaging apps, using the distribution potential and ubiquity of web technologies.
In July of 2013, Kik introduced third-party HTML5 games into its instant messaging app. Since then, they’ve been launching a new game every week. The main value of these games, in addition to entertainment, is reflected in one of the entries in the company’s blog: “there’s no need to go to your app store to download anything new, no hassle of entering passwords, downloading massive files or fiddling around trying to sync up your account. You can start playing games with your friends right in Kik!” Currently, Kik has more than 300 million users and 40% of American teenagers use it.
Skype also has a few bots, some of them gaming. Most of these games are conversational, with the possibility to interact with text or image messages. However, neither Skype nor Slack seem to be currently making the most of the potential for introducing games created with HTML5.
In April 2016, Line also introduced bots into its instant messaging app, which is hugely successful in Asia, with 218 million users. They’ve even created the 2017 Bot Awards, with $100,000 in prizes, something previously done by Telegram.
Recently, in October, we saw how Telegram introduced gaming bots to offer entertainment to its 100 million users. All the new games that each and every one of the bots offer were developed with HTML5 and can be loaded within the app automatically, with the same app user experience, when in reality they’re web pages displayed within the conversation itself.
These games’ ability to socialize is huge, since they can show the players’ top scores and be easily shared via different chats within the app, and there’s no need to install or download anything.
Even more recently, in November 2016, we heard lots of rumors and news about how Facebook Messenger is trying ‘Instant Games’ inside its app. Some have seen a relationship between their recent investment in Big Viking Games and the imminent need for more instant games in HTML5.
Definitely, with this trend, we’re seeing how, for the first time, the market is making the most of and exploiting the possibilities “The web offers as a gaming platform”. The talk the CEO of Softgames gave at the 2016 Casual Connect USA had this title: ‘Messaging is the New Platform (Game) Bots Are The New Apps.” For Alexander Krug, it seems that the combination of chatbots and HTML5 also offers enormous possibilities.
It seems that, in general, bots are here to stay; all you have to do is take a look at the Kik bots store to see how much variety there is—even some big brand names already have a presence.
In fact, there’s even a controversy brewing about whether bots are the new apps, but that’s another story and another article.