Facebook's Getting Into Gaming Again With Messenger Games

Remember 'Farmville,' guys?


Facebook, the third-biggest website in the world and a Silicon Valley juggernaut on the bleeding edge of technology, thinks that Pac-Man, a video game created in 1980, is the future.

On Tuesday, the company announced that it’s adding a suite of video games to its popular Messenger app, including titles like Words With Friends and EverWing in addition to the ‘80s classic. There will be 17 launch titles to start, though Facebook will probably roll out more in the future.

“Earlier this year, we introduced a simple game of basketball on Messenger that allowed you to play some virtual hoops by sending an emoji to your friends,” the head of Messenger at Facebook, David Marcus, explained in a post. “1.2 billion plays later, we knew we were on to something.”

“Games are social by definition, so this experience encourages interaction, competition and celebration with leaderboards, group chat opportunities and easy ways to challenge any of your Messenger contacts,” Marcus continued, sounding very much like a normal human being and not at all like an alien who has studied (but not mastered) basic social interactions.

The games don’t appear to be that complex or impressive, but that’s probably the whole point. Casual gaming, especially on mobile devices, has become a welcome distraction and time suck for many a bored commuter. Facebook’s library of games are accessible by design and will likely draw countless users in — though we’ll have to wait and see if anything approaches Farmville-like levels of mania.

The video accompanying the news is puzzling, to say the least. Using visuals that were unquestionably ripped off from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the spot follows a nondescript office-type as he battles friends and family in Messenger’s various new games. At the end, he wins the affection of a hip new gamer girlfriend by losing in a game of EverWing. It’s somewhere south of cute and just north of icky.

It’s the type of ad that some marketers either thought about way too much or way too little. Plus, we’re talking about playing Pac-Man on a mobile phone. Maybe Facebook is giving itself a little too much credit.

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