How to play Facebook Messenger Instant Games on your phone (2017)

Brittany A. Roston - May 2, 2017
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How to play Facebook Messenger Instant Games on your phone (2017)

As we reported earlier today, Facebook Messenger’s games are now available to users around the world, giving everyone a chance to play. The existence of these games — which Facebook calls Instant Games — is still relatively unknown, though, and even those who know about them may not be sure how to actually access them. That’s where this guide comes in. Fortunately, playing Messenger Instant Games is pretty simple, and it takes less than a minute to get started.

You may have already encountered Messenger games in the form of certain soccer and basketball offerings. While those were fun, Instant Games are better, being far more robust and akin to a game app, only minus the downloading part. Instant Games offer, among other things, ‘rich gameplay features’ and ‘more dynamic and engaging gaming experiences,’ according to Facebook.

Before you start

To play Facebook Messenger Instant Games, you need to first make sure you’re running the latest version of the app, which you likely are. If for one reason or another you’ve disabled app updates, you can manually update Messenger by pulling it up in the Google Play Store and tapping the “Update” button. Wait for that update to finish, then tap “Open” to launch the app.

The new Messenger interface is a tad different than the previous iteration, as you’ve likely noted by now. The interface you see, though, will depend on whether you’re using Android or iOS.

iOS

If you’re using iOS, you should see a small game pad controller icon on the bottom menu of a Messenger chat. Of course, you need to open a chat first to see this icon. Choose carefully, as you’ll then be prompted to send that friend a challenge to beat your score. Once you tap the gamepad icon, you’ll see a simple list of games, which presently includes things like Pac-man, Snake, Bingo and other simple things. There are also some modern popular titles like “Words With Friends.”

Android

If you’re using Google’s mobile OS, things are a bit different (but only a bit). Open Messenger, then open a chat and look for the small circle with a + symbol inside. Tap that and a menu will open with colorful icons for specific things. Tap the ‘Games’ bubble and a game page will open that looks the same as the one shown above.

Play games without challenging friends

Playing against your friends is fun, but sometimes you may want to play alone rather than directly challenging someone. Doing this, fortunately, is pretty easy. Open the main Messenger screen (the screen where all your chats are listed) and scroll down for a section called ‘Games.’ You can access the games’ list directly there and launch a game without going through a specific chat.

If you’re not seeing the ‘Games’ section by itself, there’s also an easy ‘workaround’ — just start a Messenger chat with yourself and then launch the game in that chat — you’ll still challenge your friend, but your friend will be you.

Wrap-up

Instant Games marks a big turning point for Messenger, which itself has been growing in many ways that are beyond an ordinary messaging app. You can order transportation directly in the app, as one example, and can also send someone money without leaving the service. Now, thanks to this latest expansion, you can also play games with only a few quick taps.


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