Market Insight

Snap jumps on the social gaming bandwagon: deep platform integration and opt-in ads may boost engagement

April 11, 2019

Louise Shorthouse, Ph.D. Louise Shorthouse, Ph.D. Research Analyst I, Games and Apps

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The Snapchat-based Snap Games service allows users to play with their friends in real-time and is inspired by Asian messaging giants WeChat, Line and Kakao. It also follows recent forays into the gaming space by Google and Apple. Integrated text and voice chat functions and the emphasis on casual multiplayer ease the consumer transition from social media to games - especially for the many non-gamers in the existing Snapchat audience.

Seamless integration means intuitive play for non-gamers

The deep integration of the service into the current Snapchat platform emphasises convenience and accessibility, and its operation will be more intuitive for established users. Snapchat faces intense competition from Facebook’s Instagram, and the integration of gaming may help to sustain user numbers and drive engagement. With multiple platforms now looking increasingly similar – Facebook and Instagram recently copied Snapchat’s popular “Stories” feature – a well-executed and seamlessly integrated gaming service could help them stand out from the crowd. This also encourages users to remain within the Snapchat eco-system for all things social.

Opt-in ads take over from traditional IAPs

In an effort to monetise its 180+ million users, Snap Games will include non-skippable six-second ads on an opt-in basis – a model used successfully by other app games already. Game developers will be able to offer players boosts or in-game currency in exchange for watching an ad, potentially boosting ad viewership and enticing advertisers to invest in the platform. In-app purchase were not ruled out, and will likely be integrated later on. However, Snap represent another party in the IAP value chain, and so publishers may receive a lower revenue share versus the standard app-store split. High engagement will be necessary in order to offset the effects of the lower cut.

Competition inevitably on the horizon in the Western market

This announcement comes shortly after WeChat, China’s social networking giant, invited global developers to create games on its platform – a feature also offered by Facebook’s Instant Games. Previous efforts to bring the WeChat platform to international audiences had flopped, and Snap is well-equipped to capitalise on this, given its majority-Western audience. With its unique formula, there is space for Snap Games to establish a foothold in the saturated mobile games market. However, with newer rivals TikTok gaining traction in the West and showing a mounting interest in mobile games, and Instagram never far behind, further competition for Snap Games looks increasingly likely in the near future.

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