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Facebook Preps Larger Rollout for Messenger Games

Facebook is preparing to  launch a new way to play games on Messenger called “Instant Games,” according to two people briefed on the product. It could roll out as soon as this month, one of these people said.

Earlier this year Facebook quietly launched a few games—basketball, soccer and chess games—as experiments. The games can be found by sending basketball or soccer ball emojis to someone on the app. Tapping on the emojis launches the game, which keeps track of both players’ points.

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Facebook has a rocky relationship with game developers. Several years ago, it widely featured games within NewsFeed, leading companies like Zynga and Playdom to build significant businesses with games like FarmVille. But those games quickly fell out of favor as people lost interest and Facebook rejiggered its algorithm and stopped promoting the games within News Feed.

—Cory Weinberg contributed to this report

Tom Dotan and Joseph Cohen commented on this article.
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The move to get more games onto Messenger pulls directly from the playbook set by popular chatting apps like WeChat and Line, which host large libraries of games that in turn churn out significant revenue.