Facebook quietly added a new mini basketball game to its mobile Messenger app this week as a treat for fans chatting about March Madness (or basketball in general).
To play the free-throw shooting mini-game, send the basketball emoji to a friend, then click on the ball in chat. In the game, players shoot the ball by flicking their finger in the direction they want to shoot, and try to hit as many consecutive baskets as possible. The game also gets incrementally more challenging as you score more baskets. According to The Next Web, the hoop starts to move after players hit 10 baskets. After 20 baskets, the hoop speeds up. It’s possible that it gets even faster at 30 baskets, but I definitely don’t have enough game to get that far, so I’ll let you confirm that for yourself.
When you exit the game, Facebook posts your high score as a system message in the chat, basically daring your friend(s) to do better. The game also shows the in-chat high score while you’re playing.
This is not the first easter egg game Facebook has slipped into Messenger. Users discovered in February that the Messenger team had programmed a basic chess program in the app, which you can turn on by typing “@FBChess” into chat.
Meanwhile, more and more companies are integrating with Messenger, expanding its functionality beyond simple chat. Last week Spotify rolled out sharing integration, which allows users to share song links directly through the app. Users are also be able to call a ride from Uber, book a hotel room at a Hyatt, or book a flight on airline KLM soon, based on previously announced partnerships.
Not every feature coming to Messenger is as useful as Uber or as fun as a basketball game. According to an internal document leaked in February, Facebook plans to give companies the ability to send targeted advertising directly to their customers, starting later this year. According to the document, users will be able to send ads to any user that’s previously contacted them through the platform.