How to Integrate Online Gambling into iMessage and Have the Upper Hand
August 8, 2018

After Facebook announced Instant Games, allowing third-party developers to deliver content directly to social network users, many Western tech giants took up the initiative. With its release of iOS 11, Apple made moves to bite off a piece of the hybrid messaging pie by introducing a completely overhauled version of iMessage, letting Apple users play games with their contacts while in a conversation, alongside sending new emoji, stickers and animated messages. How does it all work? How to Integrate Online Gambling into iMessage and Have the Upper Hand.

The iOS 11 update brings the App Store directly into the iMessage interface, becoming an essential part of the overall system. As of now, there’re a bevy of of applications to be downloaded – from photo filters and sticker packs to casino games and other time-fillers. What’s in there for you?

First and foremost, iMessage applications fall into the hybrid messaging format, which is a tried-and-true way of earning $$$ millions, as seen on WeChat by Tencent and LINE by Line Corp., earning their respective companies $200 and $700 million dollars in 2016 respectively. In other words, hybrid messaging is a new market, just waiting to be explored and mined..

This is Why Mobile Game Development and iMessage is The Perfect Match

Most iMessage games are turned-based in nature. While chatting with a contact, the two of you may share a game of cards, checkers, or snooker without having to leave the conversation. These quick, easy, exciting, and swift mechanics will keep users glued to the screen for hours, making iMessage games an opportunity to explore in the nearest future, while there’re still few serious players in the field.

What makes mobile and iMessage games so similar? Both camps are addictive, ‘sticky’, and simple by design. No serious development effort is needed, while few product iterations are required. But the key word here is ‘addictive’. Why is that, exactly? Because poker, roulette and blackjack are naturally additive experiences!

Head Start For Casino Games

One of the difficulties developers face with iMessage is finding out placement tactics which work best. It has been already noted that the hybrid messaging market is a relatively new one, with plenty of unknowns to be worked out. What works best? There’s one thing for sure – in terms of porting to social platforms casino games seem to show the most promise. Poker, roulette, slots – effective gaming mechanics that have already been studied, implemented and tested. All you have to do is adapt them to the needs of iMessage users.

How to Integrate Online Gambling into iMessage and Have the Upper Hand

Everyone knows how to play cards or spin a reel. When a fancy platformer type game is too complex for a game played while chatting with a friend, good-old cards will always find a way into the hearts and minds of Apple fans.

As of today, casino game apps have little-to-no presence in the iMessage App Store. In fact, a potential user interested in playing a game of chance with a friend can choose poker only. No roulette, slots, or even baccarat are currently available. What makes it even worse for a gambling fan, poker games are presented by either GamePigeon, which is a blended mix of several titles including poker, or such poor apps as this one.

In other words, with few poker games for iMessage currently available, the next company to release a proper casino game could make a killing. Since the launch of the App Store, Apple has paid $50 billion out to developers. Given iMessage games are lightweight and fast-to-build, this is quite a sweet spot for mobile casino game developers.

New iMessage App Development Framework

To start working on your first iMessage application, you should get the latest versions of iOS and Xcode. For those who’ve been developing on iOS for some time, there will be nothing new. However, to streamline an iMessage app, you have to master the new class-based framework released with iOS 11 – Messages Framework. It’s an add-in to the native iOS development environment which uses App Extension technology to give applications the structure of an extension, being a prerequisite for an app to become available in the iMessage App Store.

5 Cornerstones of a Successful iMessage Game

Everyone knows that Apple has a pretty strict policy regarding applications. Content quality, technical performance and legal aspects, all have to be taken into consideration, especially when a casino game is being considered. That’s why you have to make sure the future app lives up to these 5 pillars of developing a consistent iMessage app.

  • Asynchronous gameplay – The very nature of iMessage games is turn-based. With this in mind, your game has to be able to withstand long pauses between players making a move;
  • Social interaction – Like all successful mobile games, your app has to offer rich social features to keep long-term retention strong. Letting players communicate in-between moves or actions is essential as well;
  • Competition – Where there’s competition, there’s excitement. And where there’s excitement, there’s a game of chance, gambling, fire in the belly. Start with a simple PvP experience to test the waters and don’t forget about the Leadership board and User rankings to spur users to play on;
  • Collaboration – Unlike competitive games where users challenge one another, collaborative games offer the opposite experience. In collaboration, you and your friends fulfill team goals set by the app;
  • Friendliness – Most guidelines recommend making iMessage apps as friendly as possible, including content, interface, calls to action, etc..  

Drawbacks to Overcome

When porting poker games and slots to the iMessage platform, one of the questions to answer is how will you monetize the entire thing in the first place? Judging from what Apple officials say, all the core iTunes monetization principles (purchase, freemium, subscription) will be available in the framework of iMessage app development as well. However, there’s a serious problem left to address.

In 2016, The List of Most Grossing iMessage Apps was revealed. Among 200 most profitable applications, 78% were… 2D/3D art sticker packs. In other words, 158 of the highest grossing iMessage applications are simple stickers ($0.99 per pack). And only 42 bestselling apps belong to the categories we’re interested in – Entertainment and Games. Anyway, food for thought.

In conclusion, the iMessage App Store is a promising new revenue channel letting you interact with millions of casino fans on a daily basis. On the plus side, there’re a couple decent poker games available, meaning Apple is relevantly lenient towards casino gaming, which doesn’t require much resource and time to develop. However, on the con side there’s the fact that the serious money is currently being earned via sticker packs used in chat. How to integrate them into games of chance? Whoever finds out will find themselves landing a jackpot.

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