Instant speculation abounds with Facebook Messenger’s Instant Games


mark-bivens_portraitThis guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.” He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). You can read more on his blog at or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here.


Subscription media service The Information broke a story on Friday about Facebook Messenger allegedly planning to integrate HTML5 games into their platform, enabling users to play “Instant Games” directly in their chat feed. Assuming the reports are accurate, I find this development quite interesting for a number of reasons.

First, this represents further confirmation that the rumors of HTML5’s demise in gaming have been greatly exaggerated (I’ve long argued as such for the reasons I cite here and here).

Secondly, this feature will undoubtedly boost engagement, thus extending the share of time consumers spend on the FB Messenger platform. Combined with Instagram, Oculus, and Facebook itself, imagine how many hours per week Facebook will capture from consumers on one of its properties.

Additionally, the monetization opportunities should be plentiful. Facebook could enrich its targeted advertising profiles with deeper knowledge on users habits. FB could also grab a slice of revenue from in-game purchases or even playable HTML5 ads like those in Neko Atsume. Could Instant Games serve as a backdoor to an FB equivalent of an App Store?

Finally, I could imagine how Instant Games could enable Messenger to strengthen its position in the few markets where it is not the leading messaging app. Although I suspect FB Messenger will not dethrone WeChat in China, countries like South Korea (Kakao), Japan, Taiwan, Thailand (all three, Line) may all come back in play.

I’ll be curious to watch how Facebook’s Messenger team selects its games for this service, and in particular whether they tailor their game selection based on market vs. pursuing a U.S.-centric content strategy for instance.