3 ways Viber is getting it wrong in its plunge into the mobile gaming arena
As a messaging app, Viber has been slow to hop onto the games publishing bandwagon, pioneered in recent years by KakaoTalk, Line, and WeChat. But yesterday Viber released the Viber Games platform, which integrates social games. So we decided to take a look at Viber’s social gaming titles to see if they’re good enough to help the app in its close battle with Line.
While the press release indicates three games in its launch line-up – available only in limited countries for now – I was able to access just two: Viber Candy Mania and Viber Pop.
Viber Candy Mania is a Candy Crush clone, while Viber Pop is a bubble shooting game. Both make use of iconic Viber sticker characters Violet and Legcat, just like how Line games make use of Line’s cutesy mascots.
After playing these new titles, our verdict is that Viber’s games so far are disappointing. There are three things wrong with how Viber has plunged into the mobile game arena. Firstly…
Its games are clones
Viber is late to the party and it needs a strong launch line-up to show it can keep pace with the likes of WeChat and Line. A tiny launch lineup of heavily cloned games isn’t very promising and says a lot about how Viber evaluates entertainment for its users.
Clone games are typically seen as a safer choice for big players looking to go into casual gaming, and they are also the ones expected to make the most money. As such, an onlooker might wonder if Viber is doing games to enhance the user experience or simply to establish a new cash cow.
Clone games are safe games, in the sense that players are always willing to try something familiar. Just look at the myriad of farming games or Candy Crush clones out there. But at the same time, a clone game that doesn’t innovate much on an existing formula has little incentive for users to try it out. Viber’s games are… ordinary, and mimic games that have been on the market for a long while. Why would a user play them when there’s something newer and cooler, like Candy Crush Soda Saga?
They don’t make full use of Viber’s characters
The Line games I’ve enjoyed the most have always been the ones that take full advantage of how cute its mascots are. Line Rangers, while very similar to Japanese hit Battle Cats, does this incredibly well. Brown, Cony, and friends are milked dry. But Viber hasn’t done this.
Legcat and Violet – who appear in Viber Pop and Viber Candy Mania respectively – are cute. Garfield-esque Legcat is adorable with huge eyes and hilarious expressions. Yet his role in Viber Pop is little more than tossing bubbles at other bubbles. Violet’s role in Viber Candy Mania is simply to stand on top and cheer when you clear a level. The characters have been tacked onto the game, whereas with Line, the game has been developed around the characters.
Of course, it’s still a little too early to judge Viber. Its foray into building a games platform has only just begun, after all. There’s a chance it could have a hit game, which will benefit the messaging app as much as the social gaming aspect.
Still, Viber is late to the party, and you know what happens when you make a late arrival: all eyes are on you.
This post was originally published in Tech In Asia