Facebook Messenger is the most popular instant messaging app in the world. It has been reported that one billion active users are using it every month. This should not be a surprise considering that Facebook is the most popular social media/social networking site in the world. It has more than 1.71 billion active users per month. In second place is YouTube with more than a million active users per month.
Facebook as an Ecosystem
Facebook is currently one of the largest companies in IT. Although it is practically on the same level as Microsoft, Google, and Apple, it does not have the ecosystem size of the other giants. During the past few years, it has been trying to remedy that situation. It acquired Instagram and WhatsApp. At the same time, it also sets Facebook Messenger as a separate app.
In comparison, Apple has been creating its ecosystem since before the IBM PC. It has two important operating systems: iOS and OS X. Microsoft still has a large user Windows base, and it is forging ahead with Surface on Windows 10. It would be the biggest change for Microsoft since the introduction of Windows XP. Google has Android, as well as a whole slew of online properties. Google has become so diversified that they renamed the parent company Alphabet while retaining Google for the online app names.
In itself, Facebook is an ecosystem. However, it has become insulated and firmly anchored on the social media as the platform. The in-game purchases may have decreased in significance, but it is still bringing in revenue. Meanwhile, its Facebook ads and post boost are increasing.
Facebook Messenger as game platforms
The use of Messenger as a separate platform for messaging ads and a potential game platform is bound to be a game changer for Facebook. It would allow people to have games while on Messenger. To do that, it has to have compelling content. In this instance, it has made some moves before summer to recruit talent or buy teams to create games on Messenger.
There are already several companies which have announced that they are developing games for Messenger. One of the most prominent games already being tested in the wild is “Shuffle Cats Mini” from King.com. It is available for download in New Zealand. Although it is available for download, it can only be played in New Zealand and some other parts of the world. At present, it can only be played, but the scores cannot be shared via Messenger. That capability is still missing.
HTML5 Development Team
Much has been said about how Facebook feels about HTML5. However, in April 2016 it announced that it acquired HTML5 programmers from Spaceport.io. This was practically the whole programming team of the company. It specializes in HTML5 programming for mobile devices with near native-code speed of execution. In a recent report, the Facebook Messenger games would be hybrids of HTML5 and native code.
Facebook calls its Messenger games “Instant Games.” Another game developer which may be developing instant games is Big Viking. Their GalatronVS is already available to try out on their website. It is also available on Kik’s store as a downloadable game from within Kik. Like most app technologies today, Kik delivers it via a chatbot. Even the game instructions are via a chatbot.
This may warrant the return of HTML5 on Facebook. In 2009, Facebook was riding high on in-game purchases from its Games. This started to taper off and bled out by 2011. At the time, apps on Android and iOS were outperforming the Facebook games. Facebook was not able to compete on the mobile platforms. At the same time, developers were not as yet experienced with HTML5, which prompted the dissatisfaction of Facebook about the language.
It was not the fault of the language, rather programmers and development companies were not yet able to tap into the full potential of the language. Almost five years later, HTML5 development has reached maturity and programmers are now comfortable with its use.
More Gaming and Revenue Channels
At the height of the Facebook game craze, they had about 1.06 billion users with game revenue in the neighborhood of $256 million for the 4th quarter of 2012. Today, those figures stand at 1.7 billion and $196 million revenue. On top of that, they have already maxed out their fixed property for ads. Any more than that and it would be supersaturated, which might lead to lesser page views and clicks overall. The only alternative would be to expand their ecosystem.
Besides the Messenger games, Facebook is also looking at a game platform much like Steam. Called Facebook Gameroom, it is a PC-based gaming platform which should expand its advertising and sales potential.
Of course, there are also the Messenger bots. These are helper applets which run within Messenger which can be used to continue a conversation, or be a support wizard. These could also be sales assistants. It would be exciting to see if Facebook can deliver on these potential sources of income.
When all others are moving forward and trying to protect their gains at the same time, a company which is not moving can feel that they are being left behind. Facebook is so profitable and large in its space that for it to maintain their revenue and growth, they have to create additional space on their own. Microsoft, Facebook, Google/Alphabet and Apple have their spaces and ecosystems. These spaces overlap and they end up competing with one another. Facebook has made a name for itself as a social media giant, and it is the time that it pulls some weight and be more than social media.