Facebook rolls out new-and-improved Instant Games with bots, turn-based gameplay

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Facebook unveiled a suite of new features coming to Messenger at its annual F8 conference last month as part of the next evolution of its chat platform, Messenger 2.0. Among them was the expansion of Instant Games — social gaming experiences that take place directly within chat.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced it had begun rolling out the new-and-improved Instant Games alongside a new version of Zynga’s Words With Friends made specifically for the service.

Although Instant Games are meant to be played in the context of a group or private conversation, they pack the same kinds of features that users would expect from traditional games, and now benefit from tight integration with Messenger’s new Bots.

Bots are automated, AI-powered companions that respond to user requests with intelligently sourced suggestions. In the case of Instant Games, Bots help facilitate the action by reminding players when it’s time to make the next move, and presenting leaderboard updates to encourage a little healthy competition.

According to Facebook, developers are free to build bots to enhance their games in new and inventive ways, so it’ll be interesting to see how they take to it.

Facebook says turn-based games were its most requested feature, and so it comes as little surprise that Words With Friends has joined the party. Zynga’s popular title arrives on Messenger with the ability to easily add players directly from their friends list, and uses a smaller board with fewer tiles for faster gameplay. As players make moves within the conversation, it’s now easier than ever before to take your opponent to task over whether or not their play was a legitimate word in the English language.

Zynga’s latest release comes a little over a week after the company debuted GIFs Against Friends on iMessage.

There are currently 50 titles available as Instant Games, according to Facebook, though not all of them are compatible with all devices. The company says more games are slated to land nearly every week, including Blackstorm’s fantasy shooter EverWing and Miniclip’s 8 Ball Pool. The Instant Games update should reach iOS and Android users over the coming days.