Last year, when Facebook required users to download a separate app to use Facebook Messenger, it caused some initial frustration but served the company's end game: The plan was to turn Messenger into an Asian-style messaging platform of its own, complete with apps, in-app sticker to purchase, and yes, games. On Wednesday, Facebook Messenger started supporting its first game, Doodle Draw, TechCrunch spotted.
Doodle Draw is largely a copy of Draw Something, the flash-in-the-pan hit that helped its parent company sell for $183 million to Zynga back in the heady days of 2013. It works like Pictionary: The game gives you something to draw -- say, a zombie -- and after you scribble it onto your screen, it gets sent to a friend you're messaging. If they guess what you drew, both of you get points. Rinse and repeat.
The game doesn't seem significnatly more fun than Draw Something, which is still available for both iOS and Android. But the key to these kinds of games is playing them with fun friends, which fits in well with Facebook Messenger's strength. It shouldn't be a problem to find someone to play with; Facebook Messenger has been downloaded 1 billion times.
Facebook opened up its messaging platform to apps back in March and it's currently the most popular free app in both app stores in the United States.
Some Asian messaging apps, like Line, have long supported in-app purchases, games, and other apps through their messaging services. These can be real moneymakers -- games accounted for 60 percent of Line's $180 million in gross revenue in the fourth quarter last year. Although Doodle Draw is free at the moment, it's not hard to imagine an in-app purchase unlocking extra colors or other goodies.
Here's how to get started on iPhone:
Download Doodle Draw from Facebook's Messenger app list. It's the button with three dots:
Pick a challenge, draw it, and you can choose to send it to a friend.
Unfortunately, although sending your picture to a friend through Messenger is easy, the game's mechanics happen in the Doodle Draw app. Have fun!