Facebook Messenger is adding a bunch of multiplayer augmented reality games that you play with your camera

  • Facebook is adding augmented reality games to its Messenger app.
  • The new feature is further evidence of how Facebook is leaning into augmented reality as a way to offer users new experiences – and make more money.
  • Up to six people can play the games at a time via video chat, which include “Don’t Smile” and “Asteroids Attack.”

Facebook is continuing to lean in to augmented reality.

On Wednesday, the social network announced via blog post that it is adding augmented reality (AR) games to Messenger that users can play with their friends.

The games use the California company’s AR tech to track players faces and pit them against each other in head-to-head multiplayer challenges. In one, “Asteroids Attack,” plays have to navigate a spaceship around asteroids. Another, “Don’t Smile,” does what it says on the tin – whoever smiles first loses, similar to the AR iOS app “Try Not to Smile.”

The games are fairly rudimentary, but highlight how Facebook is continuing to push forward with augmented reality as it experiments with new formats and experiences for its users,experiences that could lead to future monetisation opportunities as Facebook’s revenue growth slows and its profits shrink. Facebook-owned Instagram recently launched a set of AR filters on its platform that let users try on lipstick shades from Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics company – a clear nod to future money-making opportunities in AR for the company.

The Messenger games can be played with up to six people and there’s more currently in the pipline, including “Beach Bump” and “Kitten Kraze.”

Here’s Messenger product manager Nora Micheva’s instructions on how to play the games: “Make sure you have the latest version of Messenger. Open an existing conversation or find the person or group of people you’d like to chat with and tap the video icon on the upper right corner of the screen. Then simply tap the star button and select one of the AR games – the person or group you are video chatting with will get a notification indicating it’s time to get your game on.”

Of note: Snapchat, one of Messenger’s chief rivals, already offers a selection of simple AR games.

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