Though Facebook has clearly expressed its interest in virtual reality (VR) with the past acquisition of Oculus and the continued support of the platform, its is only relatively recently that the company has shown an interest in augmented reality (AR). Facebook is continuing to experiment with AR technology with the introduction of several new AR videogames into Facebook Messenger.
The new videogames were announced via a Facebook blog post, where it was revealed that a number of AR games would be coming to the popular instant messaging app.
The titles so far introduced are all relatively simple, most of which utilise a smartphone camera in order to play. The titles are multiplayer, usually pitting players against each other in one-on-one challenges.
One of them is called Asteroids Attack and requires players to manoeuvre a spaceship around some asteroids. Don’t Smile, meanwhile, uses the smartphone camera to identify the user’s expression, and whoever smiles first loses. More games are said to be coming soon.
Instagram, also owned by Facebook, also recently launched a set of AR filters which lets users try on cosmetics. This sort of ‘try before you buy’ retail applications is becoming increasingly popular, and may indicate the direction Facebook is headed in regards to the possible monetisation of AR features in the future.
One of the main rivals of Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, has long offered a variety of AR filters, like the World Lenses and Face Lenses. Snap Inc released the Snapchat Lens Studio earlier this year in a bid to open up Snapchat AR features to developers and allow Snaphat capabilities to be integrated into other apps.
Facebook Messenger Nora Micheva encouraged users to play the new games with the words: “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.”
For future coverage of Facebook’s work in VR and AR, keep checking back with VRFocus.