Facebook has decided to roll out games on its app. We are reliving the technological cycle that came with MySpace and MSN Messenger in the late 90’s and early 00’s.
In the latest version of the app, open a conversation with a friend (or friends!), tap on the game controller icon just below where you type your message, and choose a game to start playing right away. After you finish a round, people in the conversation will see your score and will have the opportunity to challenge you back.
If anyone remembers MSN Messenger back in the day, it had this exact same feature with its set of supposed “classic games”. Since then, it has been obsoleted by Skype, which does not feature games in its app.
Is the idea to make its users spend more time in app, which supposedly will increase advertising or micro-transaction revenue? If history dictates anything, this fad will be short-lived. What makes Facebook less immune to a collapse like that of MySpace and MSN Messenger?
After all, I entered the online “classic game” arena with GameSlush.com after seeing the disappearance of Yahoo! Games and MSN Games. These behemoth companies, Yahoo! and Microsoft, have already cut their leisure gaming divisions because they simply don’t make enough return on investment for their upkeep and development costs. On the other hand, it really does just take a staff of one (e.g. myself) to replace that niche market, resulting in a nimbler game venue that can pivot easier to what the users want.
If Facebook wants to pile on money hiring dozens of graphic artists, game developers, and software engineers for their new gaming division, that’s their choice. I’m not sure if they did their research on what happened in the past with Microsoft and Yahoo. Let’s see how investors react and whether they can recognize that history may be repeating itself.
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If supporting small business and classic games pique your interest, GameSlush.com might be for you. If you want to support Zuckerberg and his desire to build a tech monopoly, that’s up to you too.