GameSnacks launches ad-based HTML5 game platform on Google products

GameSnacks is broadening the launch of its HTML5 gaming platform to bring lightweight, casual games to places where people have slow networks and low-end devices.

The GameSnacks team is part of Google’s internal accelerator, dubbed Area 120, for experimental products. It was started by Ani Mohan, the general manager of the GameSnacks team of a half-dozen people.

“We are excited to share how we have been building out Google’s casual web gaming platform,” Mohan said in an interview with GamesBeat.

Mohan said that hundreds of millions of people around the world today are playing casual and lightweight games distributed through the web. Much of that is happening outside the U.S., primarily in places in Asia and Africa.

“They might have come online for the first time over the last couple of years on lower bandwidth connections on older Android devices,” Mohan said. “They might not have really played games before. And so the web has become a really great way of getting games out to them. So this kind of behavior is already happening. And what we’re trying to do is think about how we can do an even better job of accelerating those trends and growing HTML5 in more countries.”

Last February, Google announced GameSnacks, and it launched the platform to test whether lightweight, casual games would resonate with people who use the internet via low memory devices on 2G and 3G networks, especially in countries like India and Indonesia. Rather than downloaded from app stores, the GameSnacks games are built in HTML5, the lingua franca of the web.

Since then, millions of people from around the world have played GameSnacks games. GameSnacks now has more than 100 games built by early game development partners. These games span multiple genres: classics (like Chess), racing games (such as Retro Drift), puzzle games (e.g. Element Blocks), and hypercasual games (like Cake Slice Ninja) to list a few. Those titles are among the most popular, Mohan said.

Mohan said that the one thing the games share in common is that they’re ad-based and don’t use in-app purchases. They’re different in that way from other free-to-play HTML5 games, some of which are designed to bypass the app stores and their 30% fees. Mohan said the intention here isn’t to bypass the app stores.

Today, GameSnacks is broadening its HTML5 games to more Google products beyond the test market in Indonesia. It is also inviting more game developers to join the platform. Mohan said HTML5 web games may remind people of Flash games from 10 or 15 years ago, but they have come a long way with richer graphics. They’re being developed on game engines such as Phaser, Construct, and Cocos, which have made it easier for developers to build HTML5 games.

HTML5 games tend to be small, enabling them to load quickly in a variety of network conditions, whether on 2G near the outskirts of New Delhi or on an intermittent connection on a New York City subway. Users can play them on any device with a web browser: Android, iOS, and on the desktop. Users don’t need to install anything to play. They simply tap on a link and start playing games immediately.

However, the distribution landscape for HTML5 games is fragmented. Developers have to painstakingly modify their HTML5 games to work across each app they integrate with or web portal they upload to. Discovering HTML5 games to play is often difficult. Back in February 2020, GameSnacks partnered with Gojek to bring HTML5 games to their users in Indonesia and give developers a new distribution opportunity.

Now it’s easy to access GameSnacks games directly from the New Tab page in Chrome, starting with users in India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Kenya. Users can get to gamesnacks.com via the Top Sites icon on Chrome on Android. The Games section is one of the most frequently visited sections of the page. GameSnacks has also debuted for Google Pay users in India.

Google Pay initially started as a way to help users pay friends. Increasingly, it allows users to get many more things done: book rides, order food, and now entertain themselves. GameSnacks is also experimenting with bringing GameSnacks games to Google Assistant.

“There are many different types of gamers playing many different types of games,” Mohan said. “We think of three buckets. There is the high-end triple-A console market. There’s the mid-core games in the middle. And then there are casual or hypercasual games that are appealing to first-time gamers. That latter segment has hundreds of millions of people, where the web is more than good enough.”

Google’s Area 120 has provided funding to GameSnacks so far.

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