SNAP INC. is getting into the video-game business.
Users of Snapchat will now be able to play games within the app’s messaging section, the company announced last Thursday at an event in West Hollywood, California. Snap unveiled six games custom made for the mobile app, including one, Bitmoji Party, it produced in-house.
Snap’s namesake app has struggled to add customers over the past couple years, and the company has branched out into video and entertainment to create new ways to make money from its existing base of 186 million daily active users. The company began selling six-second video advertisements that viewers couldn’t skip last year and will run them within the games.
Snap announced the games at the end of a presentation that also introduced 10 new original series, including a daily news show from BuzzFeed. Snap already hosts daily shows from Comcast Corp.’s NBC and Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, and introduced its first slate of original series last year.
Mobile gaming presents a large new target for the company. “Last year, mobile gaming was a $77 billion industry,” Will Wu, an executive who worked on the gaming platform, said Thursday.
Snapchat has been testing augmented reality games within the app, and foreshadowed a deeper interest when it paid a reported $8.6 million for Prettygreat, an Australian gaming studio. Executives from Prettygreat developed Bitmoji Party, in which users compete with one another to escape zombies or stay on top of a spinning cylinder.
Messaging is still the most common way in which people use Snap, and the first few games are all designed to be played together with friends. Alphabear asks users to work together to spell words and build a personal bear village. Snake Squad pits users against one another in a battle royale, like Fortnite.
“Today there are hundreds of thousands of games available for our phones,” Wu said. “But interestingly, with all those games, there aren’t any that make it easy for friends to play together.”
The shows and games are designed for people between the ages of 13 and 34, which is Snap’s primary audience. They may help the company add users abroad. Almost 75% of that age group in the US already uses Snapchat, Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel said.
Shares of Snap have more than doubled this year. Investors are waiting for Snap to complete the rollout of a new app for owners of phones that run Android, the world’s most common mobile operating system. — Bloomberg