Facebook just acquired mobile-messaging service WhatsApp for $16 billion because it has millions of users. That’s the same reason that mobile developers are looking to WhatsApp and programs like Kik to find gamers.
Today, mobile-gaming social network Weeby.co released its first original game, called Doki Stars, for the Kik messenger service. Weeby is using the platform to distribute and host the game, which could potentially put it in front of the 100 million people who chat using the app. Doki Stars is a free-to-play fast-paced puzzler that asks players to quickly match blocks of the same color and number in only 60 seconds. The game will integrate Kik to help friends play against one another.
Kik is a chat app. It enables its users to communicate with one another using pictures, sounds, and video across iOS, Android, and other platforms without standard SMS texting fees. It is especially popular with young people, and the market is continuing to expand.
Games on Kik or other messaging services isn’t a new thing. The program hosts a number of popular apps that run on its built-in browser. For example, gamers can bring up a list of apps and diversions that include Words with Friends and clones of Flappy Bird. Kik does not, however, direct users to the iOS or Android app markets. Instead, it runs HTML5 or Java version of games within the program itself.
This means two things: Developers pay a cut of in-app purchases to Kik in addition to Apple or Google, and the games don’t run as well as native apps built for mobile platforms.
So why is Weeby.co embracing Kik? Because the cut is worth it, and it has addressed the performance issues.
“A game that launches on these networks can get millions of free downloads, where a solo launch may require $2 to $5 per install,” Weeby.co chief operating officer Wei Deng told GamesBeat. “Ultimately, users are engaging with friends on messaging apps more than any other social medium; this presents a clear opportunity for game developers to tap into that social interaction and engagement with new game experiences.”
So with Apple or Google taking 30 percent and Kik taking another 20 percent, Deng and her team at Weeby feel that the revenue sharing is fair because they get so much in return.
“The cut is not a problem given that these partnerships will usually make the difference between a hit and a flop.”
The other half of the equation is getting the game to run well. After a few rounds, we can say that Doki Stars runs better than just about any other Kik-based app. Where Words with Friends feels laggy and looks choppy, Doki Stars is nearly as smooth as games built specifically for Android or iOS.
“Weeby’s technology is literally some of the best we’ve seen,” Kik chief executive Ted Livingston said. “The performance is incredible. It’s a Kik game that feels just like a native mobile experience. Doki Stars is really responsive and a ton of fun.”
The app should start appearing in Kik today, but gamers can also get to it by visiting dokistarsbeta.wee.by on any device that has Kik. The studio hopes the game will attract an audience and start generating revenue with its in-app purchases, which enable players to purchase power-ups to boost their score.