WeChat, China's ubiquitous payment and messaging platform, is now opening its mini-game platform to developers around the world, which means that WeChat outside of China could soon be much more interesting. The mini-games platform is a tab within the WeChat application where users can enjoy basic games like Tetris, and it's part of what makes WeChat so addictive in China.
Even so, there are several obstacles to playing mini games on WeChat. It is difficult to discover how to access the mini-games. You will have to go to the main WeChat search bar and write "games", which will take you to a list of mini-games that are mostly in Chinese. The pages that list the games are also in Chinese, so although it is quite easy to touch a picture of a game that seems interesting, the actual game may be different from what you expect.
The WeChat press release only mentions two developers outside of China who have taken advantage of the platform so far, and perhaps surprisingly, Google is one of them. Guess My Sketch previously shown in San Francisco last November, is a scribble game in which you have a time limit to draw everyday objects, then the Google AI guesses what you have drawn. Google seems to have a strange fascination for scribbling, as seen in its applications and experimental tools.
The other game on display, also announced in November, is called Linsane Aros : you can play to control NBA star Jeremy Lin and point to the hoops to score the most Possible slam, to win different hairstyles and surpass your WeChat contacts. That game is from the game developer based on Silicon Valley Game Closure, and Lin himself is backing the game. It is not clear if any of these games is already available to play, so we went to WeChat to ask.
Now that WeChat has opened its platform, it also promises to share profits with new developers joining from around the world. There is also a program developers can apply, called "Incentives to Creativity," which parent company Tencent launched in December to encourage developers to experiment creatively with art, music and storytelling. The program gives meritorious developers an additional 20 percent cut in revenue. (We contacted WeChat to ask how much it allows the company to pocket).
WeChat says that its mini-game platform has grown to more than 400 million active users per month, but that's less than half the amount. Active monthly users are in the application: 1.082 million. The majority of users of the platform are in China, where the application sees the greatest success.
So far, WeChat's attempts to expand abroad have failed. It was internationalized in 2012, after applications such as Facebook and WhatsApp were already being adopted abroad. Initially, the international version of WeChat lacked many of the features that make it attractive within China, including the ability to make payments in a variety of hail and taxi shops. The new announcement could help change that, although WeChat will first need users to download the application.