WeChat could get a lot more fun outside China with global mini games

23-Mar-2019 Intellasia | The Verge | 6:00 AM Print This Post

WeChat, China’s ubiquitous messaging and payments platform, is now opening up its mini games platform to developers worldwide meaning that WeChat outside of China could soon get a lot more interesting. The mini games platform is a tab inside the WeChat app where users can enjoy basic games like Tetris, and it’s part of what makes WeChat so addicting within China.

Even so, there are several hurdles to playing mini games on WeChat. It’s tricky figuring out how to access mini games. You’ll have to head into the main WeChat search bar and type in “games,” which will lead you to a list of mini games that are mostly in Chinese. The pages that list the games are likewise in Chinese, so while it’s easy enough to tap on a photo of a game that looks interesting, the actual gameplay may be different from what you’d expect.

WeChat’s press release only mentions two developers outside China that have taken advantage of the platform so far and perhaps surprisingly, Google is one of them. Guess My Sketch, previously demoed in San Francisco last November, is a doodling game where you have a time limit to doodle everyday objects, then Google’s AI takes a guess at what you’ve drawn. Google seems to have an odd fascination with doodling, as seen in its experimental apps and tools.

The other game on display, also announced in November, is called Linsane Hoops: you can tap to control NBA star Jeremy Lin and aim at hoops to score as many slam dunks as possible, in order to win different hairdos and outperform your WeChat contacts. That game is from the Silicon Valley-based developer Game Closure, and Lin himself is backing the game. It isn’t clear if either of these games are available to play yet, so we’ve reached out to WeChat to ask.

Now that WeChat has opened up its platform, it’s also promising to share profits with new developers joining in from around the world. There’s also a programme that developers can apply to, called “Creativity Incentives,” which parent company Tencent launched in December to encourage developers to experiment creatively with art, music, and storytelling. The programme grants deserving developers an additional 20 percent cut in revenue. (We’ve reached out to WeChat to ask how much its normal cut allows the company to pocket.)

WeChat says its mini games platform has grown to over 400 million monthly active users, but that’s still less than half of how many monthly active users are on the app: 1.082 billion. Most of the platform’s users are in China, where the app sees the greatest success.

So far, WeChat’s attempts to expand abroad have faltered. It went international in 2012, after apps like Facebook and WhatsApp were already finding adoption abroad. At first, WeChat’s international version lacked a lot of the features that make it appealing within China, including the ability to make payments at a variety of shops and hail cabs. The new announcement could help change that, although WeChat will first need to get users to download the app.



Category: China

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