Social Games and Mobile Message Apps Living Under the Same Roof

Mark Stephens

Social gaming and instant messaging development companies have generally ploughed separate paths since the explosion of social media and mobile Internet-ready devices created a boom in both these areas.

Though they are obviously close bosom buddies, with the “social” component of gaming lying in the ability to chat while playing, people use messaging outside of gaming – and so the line has generally been clear between mobile messaging app companies and game development companies.

In Asia that’s changing… the “line” has already been crossed and we may see more of it in the future.


Crossing the Line

I live in Thailand. On my recent visit back to the UK, I was surprised to see that no-one uses the Line mobile messaging app from Japan. Everyone uses What’s App. I had assumed that Line would have been as big in Europe as it was in Asia.

Line is a free mobile messaging app available for iOS and Android, which allows users to chat, share photos, send stickers and share other files.

100 million people have downloaded it – attracted by its “cutesy” appeal (something very big in Asia), especially drawn to the ability to choose from a huge library of “stickers” to send to friends, conveying mood and actions without writing anything: like smileys on drugs, basically.

Anyway, as well as doing all those delightful things, Line has developed channels whereby users can share their apps and games. This has enabled the company to market its social games to its broad base of customers.

Another popular Asian message app, Kakao Talk (from Korea), has followed a similar path into social gaming under the same roof, though the main messaging giants in China have so far resisted the temptation.

Line Social Games

Recently Line introduced Line Pop and Line Bubble and they hit 30 million downloads in less than two months. It’s amazing what you can do with a cute brown bear introducing the games – though personally I don’t think he’s half as cute as the MindFeud monkey.

Line Pop is a matching social game much like our own Quopples. As well as the cutesy appeal, it certainly has the addictive quality that game developers are striving for. Just ask my wife.

Once downloaded, users can challenge friends from their Line contacts; downloaders and challengers can earn free stickers to use while messaging, plus other goodies. There are also virtual goods available – and sales of these reached $1 million through Line Pop within 12 days of its launch!

The Asian Model – Coming to Europe?

Rather than building up a network of friends through the game itself, or challenging friends already waiting on social media sites like Facebook, the network of potential game players is already there within the user’s Line Friends file; so it’s kind of doing things the “other way around.”

In many ways with Line, messaging is the main event and gaming is the side-show – it tips the usual model on its head.

I am wondering whether we might start to see European and American app development companies following a similar model?