The popular instant messaging app Viber which has around 209 million monthly active users, has announced that it will be expanding into games, following in the footsteps of Line, We Chat and also Kakao.
It’s been a relatively quit year for Viber; it was bought by Japan’s Rakuten for $900 million back in February this year, just before Facebook acquired WhatsApp. Since then it would seem that the focus has been firmly on developing a gaming platform with a social element allowing its users to easily interact with each other. Users will be able to link their Viber account with the games and will be able to buy gifts to send to friends, check social-powered game leaderboards, challenge friends, battle friends, share their scores and more.
The launch of the new games will be limited to 5 countries initially; they are Belarus, Malaysia, Israel, Singapore and the Ukraine with the intention of a global release early in 2015.
Viber has partnered with two game developers, Storm8 who have produced Viber Candy Mania and also Viber Pop while the second game developer Playtika have developed a game called Wild Luck Casino.
As you may be aware, while Viber is a very popular IM app it doesn’t really have any revenue stream as it doesn’t charge for a subscription like competitor WhatsApp, instead it’s hoping that the business model where people are able to purchase virtual items will prove to be successful and provide a strong way for the company to start earning money. After all, it seems to have worked for Korea’s Kako Talk (a similar app to Viber), the company managed to make profit for the first time last year, thanks to its game platform. Also, Japan’s Line app also managed to make $192 million revenue in the 3rd financial quarter of this year.
Viber’s founder Talmon Marco has said that the company is maintaining a handpicked selection of titles at the moment; however the company will be partnering with other games developers in the near future. While also confirming that other games will be on the horizon, regular Viber users who are not too fussed about the new gaming platform can be assured that the company are also looking a number of “commercial tie-ups” in the first quarter of 2015 that will “give users more capabilities”.