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Challenge your friends within Facebook Messenger with Instant Games

If competition is at the heart of all your friendships, then Facebook Messenger might soon become your favorite battleground. The popular messaging app is getting ready to launch an “Instant Games” platform that will allow you to challenge your friends to a number of lightweight games, like Shuffle Cats Mini (a New Zealand game made by King.com). And it’s not just the Candy Crush game maker that is getting in on the action — other major developers seem to be making preparations to enter the Messenger space as well.

No longer will you have to open up a separate app in order to entertain yourself with arcade antics — now you can stay within Facebook Messenger and use it, as TechCrunch notes, “as a portal to mobile web apps,” thereby driving Messenger engagement. Already, The Information reports that Facebook is privately testing Instant Games, though it only appears to work for users in some countries. For example, while Shuffle Cats Mini is available for New Zealanders, American players get an error message when they attempt to play on mobile.

But that probably won’t be the case for long. As VentureBeat previously reported, a new startup called Big Viking recently raised over $20 million to develop “HTML5 instant games.” What are HTML5 instant games, you ask? As Big Viking CEO Albert Lai told TechCrunch in an interview today that covered the company’s plans, “HTML5 is a technology that basically allows us to embed our games into anything and everything as well as inside messenger platforms with bots. In any messenger platform, [people] can play our game. This completely shifts the power in the distribution system. Anywhere there’s a messenger we can deliver our games instantaneously.”

That certainly sounds like something Facebook and its Instant Games could use.

Of course, this is by no means Facebook’s first entrance into the gaming world, though it does represent one of its largest mobile pushes. Last week, the social media giant unveiled Facebook Gameroom, a gaming platform meant for desktop PCs.

So if you’re a gaming enthusiast, get ready for the next phase of Facebook. It looks like you’ll be playing plenty.