Telegram, the cloud-based mobile and desktop messaging app built to be a private, encrypted chat network has taken instant messaging to a whole new level. Last month it added cartoonish masks like Snapchat’s, for selfies and GIF-making. Now it’s adding games to ensure you are kept entertained while chatting.
The new Gaming Platform on Telegram being rolled out Monday for Android users is an evolution of the Bot Platform which Telegram launched last year. Since then, Telegram users were able to talk with bots and issue them commands, as well as control them using HTTPS requests and the app’s very own bot application programming interface (API).
Free, powerful, and open, it was an instant hit amongs users and developers. Today, they are aiming to push the boundaries further. While devs building for Telegram’s open platform could already make text-based bot games for the app like PokerBot or WerewolfBot, the new API seeks to step up the stickiness by enabling more visually appealing games to live inside chats on the platform.
The Telegram v3.13 update, which is now live for Android Telegram users to download, and will also land in the App Store for iOS users today(yesterday), is dubbed a “bot-powered gaming platform”. Its addictive features have been designed in a bid to try and lure users away from larger rivals like Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp.
The Technology Behind the Games Inside Chats
All of this gaming goodness is powered by HTML5 which means that games load as needed and you won’t have to install any additional files on your device. In addition to that, the requirements for gaming within the Telegram app are rather lax as the Gaming Platform 1.0 is supported on all devices running on iPhones 4 and newer and on Android 4.4 KiKat and newer. Just make sure you have Telegram version 3.13 or later installed on your Android device of choice.
Telegram has made 30 free games available to start with, all published by game developer Gamee. Though developers promised that hundreds more will be available in the near future. Of course, most of these games won’t be built by the Durov brothers or anyone else working on the actual Telegram app.
Instead, the studio is hoping third-party developers will jump at the opportunity to create simple games that anyone can enjoy using their newly released API which is available for download from telegram.org. A user opens a chat with the bot @gamee, then chooses a game to start playing.
How to Play Telegram Chatbot-Powered Games
In order to do that, simply open any Telegram chat window, type “@gamee” without the quotations and select which game you want to play alone or with your chatting buddies. In order to challenge friends to a game, you have to share it with them by using the “Share” option located in their main menus.
All of the games are score-based and the app keeps track of each and every record so you can choose to be notified whenever someone beats your high score or simply browse through leaderboards whenever you feel like it.
Telegram Privacy: Should I be Worried?
Telegram isn’t necessarily shifting away from its focus on privacy and security, in favour of entertainment. “We try to balance our updates in such a way that new security, or work-related features go hand-in-hand with fun stuff,” says Telegram’s founder and CEO Pavel Durov.
He adds “Secure messaging apps existed before Telegram and never got much traction.” We set out to build something that would be not only secure, but also actually used – not by thousands but by hundreds of millions.”
Game Time, Money Time?
Telegram’s gaming announcement is a step towards finally earning some money. Telegram has been running at a loss since it was founded by Durov, a Russian entrepreneur, in 2013. Even with the new update, Gamee’s CEO and co-founder Bozena Rezab said “We do not focus on monetization here at this point.”
While all the games on Telegram are free for now, Durov has been promising a payments API since early this year. That would make it possible, eventually, for app developers who make games or bots for Telegram to charge a fee, and for Telegram to get a cut.
When Telegram finally launches a payments platform this year or next, that will finally give it a chance to develop a revenue stream for itself and developers. With any luck a virtual circle will follow: more revenue will attract more developers, leading to more games, and potentially, many more users.
You can check out more of the cool currently available games in the gallery below.
Other Features Spotted on Updated Telegram Messenger
Besides the games, there are 3 more changes on Telegram for Android
- New Emojis category bar
- Revamped video editor
- Big emojis totally removed
For iOS users, you can finally ask Siri to send Telegram messenges!