In-app purchases are coming to Facebook’s Instant Games on Android and the web

Facebook is adding support for in-app purchases to its Instant Games platform, the company announced during a session on gaming at its F8 developer conference this afternoon. The feature will allow game developers to add another form of monetization beyond advertising to their games on select platforms, but not on iOS. Instead, support for in-app purchases will be available to Instant Games on Android and on Facebook.com on the web. First launched in 2016, Facebook opened up Instant Games to all developers last month. The platform allows developers to build mobile-friendly games using HTML5 that work across both Facebook and Messenger. The idea is to give game developers access to another sizable platform for their work, in addition to the existing app stores run by Apple and Google. Facebook has had in-app purchases on its roadmap for Instant Games for some time, and began testing the feature with select
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Google Play Instant lets you try games without having to install them

Last year, Google launched Instant Apps, a way for developers to give users a native app experience that didn’t involve having to install anything. Users would simply click on a link on the search results page and the instant app would load. Today, the company is extending this program to games. Thanks to this, you can now see what playing a level or two of Clash Royale, Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire or Panda Pop is like without having to go through the usual install procedure. Instead, you simply head for the Google Play store, find a game that supports this feature, and hit the “Try now” button. Google Play product managers Jonathan Karmel and Benjamin Frenkel told me that the team learned a lot from the experience with building Instant Apps. For games, though, the team decided to increase the maximum file size from 2 MB
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Volley’s voice games for smart speakers have amassed over half a million monthly users

The rapid consumer adoption of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home has opened opportunities for developers creating voice apps, too. At least that’s true in the case of Volley, a young company building voice-controlled entertainment experiences for Amazon Alexa and Google Home. In less than a year, Volley has amassed an audience north of 500,000 monthly active users across its suite voice apps, and has been growing that active base of users at 50 to 70 percent month-over-month. The company was co-founded by former Harvard roommates and longtime friends, Max Child and James Wilsterman, and had originally operated as an iOS consultancy. But around a year and a half ago, Volley shifted its focus to voice instead. “When we were running the iOS business, we were always sort of hacking around on games and some stuff on the side for fun,” explains Child. “We made a
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Facebook opens Instant Games to all developers

Facebook’s Instant Games are now open to all developers, Facebook announced this week in advance of the Game Developers Conference. First launched in 2016, the platform lets developers build mobile-friendly games using HTML5 that work on both Facebook and Messenger, instead of requiring users to download native apps from Apple or Google’s app stores. The Instant Games platform kicked off its launch a couple of years ago with 17 games from developers like Bandai Namco, Konami, Taito, Zynga and King, who offered popular titles like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Words with Friends. The following year, the platform had grown to 50 titles and became globally available. But it wasn’t open to all – only select partners. In addition to getting users to spend more time on Facebook’s platform, Instant Games provides Facebook with the potential for new revenue streams now that Facebook is moving into game monetization. In October, Facebook said
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Microsoft’s Mixer follows Twitch with addition of direct tipping and game sales

 Mixer, Microsoft’s answer to Twitch, will soon allow its streamers to start selling games and other downloadable content via its service, and will introduce tipping, the company announced this week in its year-end wrap-up. The game sales will be made possible through the new Mixer Direct Purchase program, which is now in testing ahead of a broad, public launch, Microsoft says. Initially,… Read More

Alexa now suggests more games to try at the end of the one you’re playing

 Consumers are starting to give Alexa’s voice apps, called skills, more of their attention. During CES this week – where Amazon is battling for attention with Google Assistant across the consumer technology spectrum on display here – the company detailed a few new numbers related to skill adoption and new ways they’re helping consumers find skills they’d like.… Read More

Consumers dropped $200 million on apps on Christmas, up 12 percent from last year

 Consumers spent $196 million on apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions on Christmas Day 2017 across the App Store and Google Play, according to new data from Sensor Tower. The report, while excluding Android revenue in China, represents a 12.3 percent increase over last year’s spending of approximately $174 million. That speaks to a still-growing market for apps and games as well as… Read More

Pixel art coloring book apps are the newest App Store craze

 Has your kid bugged you to let them download Sandbox Coloring? You’re probably not alone. The latest trend blowing up on the App Store is a new twist on the coloring book apps that have been popular for a couple of years. Now, instead of having users pick and choose their colors as before, this new group of coloring book apps – four of which recently snagged spots in the App… Read More

Un-Super-Vised

My partner Andy and I were playing with the latest crypto craze, cryptokitties, this weekend and he suggested we sire a USV kitty. So he contributed a parent from his collection and I contributed a parent from my collection and with the addition of some Ethereum, which I paid from my Coinbase account, we made a new kitty. Since it is a USV kitty, we asked the USV team to send in name suggestions and Jacqueline won that contest with the wonderful name of Un-Super-Vised. That’s a handsome cat but the thing I like most is its “lucky stripe.” God knows we need that in the startup business. In the wake of all that excitement, Jacqueline posted her thoughts on this craze. If you want to know what to make of all of this, I’d suggest giving that a read.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — December 6,
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Apple’s ‘App of the Day’ featuring boosts downloads by 1747%, games by 792%

 New research from Apptopia, out today, takes a look at the impact getting featured as the App or Game of the Day on the new iOS App Store has on app downloads. This data is still fairly early, as the revamped App Store only arrived publicly with iOS 11’s release in September. Not surprisingly, the report finds that snagging one of these featured spots can lead to a big boost in app… Read More

A history of video game console failures

 The history of console gaming is littered with high-profile flops, middling also-rans and vaporware never-weres. In fact, the stories of console failures are perhaps even more compelling than the tales of those companies that crossed the finish line. So join us as we celebrate some of the most colorful and fascinating console failures of the last three decades. Read More

How to Cut Back on Playing Video Games

As you get older and assume more responsibility in your life, your gaming time might need to adjust. It doesn’t have to be game over, but if gaming is getting in the way of real life, it’s time to push pause. Here’s what worked well for me.
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Hasbro launches a subscription service for games

 Toy company Hasbro is belatedly entering the subscription service market with today’s launch of Hasbro Gaming Crate – a service that ships a themed box containing three board games to users every three months. The service, which costs $49.99 per crate, offers two options – one designed for adults in search of new party games, and another with games better suited for families.… Read More

Google Play introduces ‘Android Excellence’ collections that showcase editorially selected top apps and games

 At WWDC this month, Apple introduced an entirely revamped App Store that puts a much greater focus on editorial, with plans for stories about the apps, how to’s, interviews, and more, in addition to regular postings of curated lists and “app of the day” type features. Today, Google announced its own plans to expand editorial involvement on Google Play, with the launch of its… Read More

Twitch expands game sales to more streamers

 In March, video game streaming site Twitch introduced a new way for its streamers to make money: by selling games directly to their fans. Initially, however, that feature was only available to Twitch’s Partners – that is, the site’s top-tier streamers with large audiences. Today, Twitch is adding game sales to its newly launched Twitch Affiliate program, as well. The… Read More

Microsoft’s game streaming service Beam rebrands as Mixer, adds co-streaming, a guide & mobile broadcasting

 Microsoft’s live-streaming service Beam, which the company acquired last year shortly after it emerged as the winner of the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield, is today getting a new name: Mixer. The name is meant to express the way the service brings people together, the team explains, but it’s not the only change rolling out today, as it turns out. Mixer is also launching… Read More

Minecraft arrives on the Nintendo Switch

 It didn’t make the cut as one of the many announcements to emerge from Microsoft’s Build 2017 event this week, but this morning the company unveiled that Minecraft – the game it acquired a few years ago for $2.5 billion – has now made its way to the Nintendo Switch. The new game will include the same features found in console versions, Microsoft says, including the… Read More

Treeo’s new social polling game lets you vote with emojis

 A new social polling game called Treeo has launched its modern-day (and cleaned up version) of the popular party game, f*ck, marry, kill. But this time, instead of voting on your plans for celebrity crushes, you’re voting on other topics categorized into sections like Home, Fashion, Movies, Food, Music, Sports, and Politics. And the way you vote is different as well: you drag the photo… Read More