Facebook could cash in from Messenger games

Facebook is reportedly working with game developers to offer their apps in Messenger

Facebook's Messenger app across devices, as pictured on July 28, 2014.

Facebook's Messenger app across devices, as pictured on July 28, 2014.

Facebook is said to be eyeing games for its mobile Messenger product, a move that might jump-start the revenue the company generates from non-advertising sources.

Facebook is in talks with gaming developers to incorporate or tie their apps in some way into Messenger, The Information news site reported on Monday. The talks are at an early stage and they could break down. But incorporating games into Messenger, which is popular among a growing number of mobile users, could boost the company's gaming business, which depends heavily on the declining number of desktop computer users.

Most of the company's non-advertising revenue comes from games, where people can use Facebook's Payments infrastructure to purchase virtual and digital goods. Facebook charges developers a fee for those sales.

In the first quarter of 2015, revenue from Facebook's "Payments and other fees" segment dropped by 5 percent year on year. Much of that revenue is generated from games played on desktop computers, whose usage Facebook expects to drop, resulting in a fall of its Payments business, the company has said in recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Facebook Messenger is now a platform for other developers' apps, whose functionalities can be incorporated into chats. As of now, most of these partner apps are geared towards photos, whether to create GIFs or to apply digital effects. Messenger has its own app store.

Adding games, and ones that offer digital goods, could draw more users to Messenger and grow Facebook's fees revenue.

Although the Messenger platform is now best suited for content-creation apps, going forward "we'll think about what else might make sense," a Facebook spokeswoman said Friday.

Messenger now has more than 600 million users who log in at least once a month, according to Facebook. That's almost half of Facebook's total user base. Last year, the company began forcing users to download Messenger for mobile chat. Previously, it was possible for Facebook users to chat from within the site's mobile apps.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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Zach Miners

IDG News Service
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