LOS ANGELES—Snap Inc. hopes it found the answer to its stagnant audience growth. Games.
The company behind the Snapchat communications app announced a new gaming platform Thursday, Snap Games, which will enable its young users the ability to launch games directly from the chat window.
“Game on,” said Snap co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel and a splashy event for app developers here at the old Hollywood Warner studio lot.
The idea of the gaming push is to bring the experience of playing games with friends directly to the app, without having to download a game or leave Snap.
Some six new games were introduced, which will be rolled out to the entire Snap audience over the coming weeks.
Snap itself is the creator of Bitmoji Party, where friends get to play as animated images of themselves, via the Bitmoji. Four games live within, including Pool Party, Kick Off, Spin Session, and Zombie Escape.
Publishers Zynga, Game Closure, PikPok, Spry Fox and Zeptolab also created games that include shoot-ups, puzzles and adventure. The partner games aren’t expected to be rolled out for several weeks.
Bernard Kim, the president of publishing for mobile game maker Zynga, says Snap’s move into gaming is “huge,” because the Snap user base is already playing games. “Why makes them go somewhere else, and have to download an app, when they can play right on Snapchat?”
Snap has 186 million daily active users and said growth was flat in its most recent earnings report. Meanwhile, rival Instagram now has more than double the daily audience, with 500 million users.
“You’re going to see minutes go way up,” says Peter Pham, the president of Los Angeles tech incubator Science, Inc. “This is what the Snapchat audience wants.”
Pham, who attended the event, says comparisons to Instagram aren’t fair, because they’re very different audiences. Instagram is about sharing photos, while Snap is the vehicle young people prefer for communications. In his opening remarks, Spiegel said Snap reached 90% of the 13- to 24-year-old user base.
Snap has historically been more advanced at augmented reality, placing animated objects into real life, than competitors, and Thursday it showed no signs of slowing down. It introduced new “Lenses,” that turn ordinary objects into wonder. For instance, a Lens focused on a building here on the studio lot puts eyes and a big protruding red tongue on the exterior.
On average, more than 70% of Daily Active Users play with or view a Lens every day on the service, Snap said, by pressing and hold on the Snapchat camera screen to find local lenses. Some 400,000 lenses have been created by app developers.
Snap introduced new templates for to bring lenses to popular tourist spots, including Buckingham Palace in London, the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the TLC Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
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