Snapchat wants to let you play its augmented reality Lenses, not just play dress-up. Today it launched Snappables — AR games that use your touch, motion, and facial expressions to compete for high scores or in literal head-to-head multiplayer matchups. Snappables live alongside Snapchat’s other Lenses and are rolling out globally this week. New games will be released each week while favorites will stick around.
These are Snapchat’s first collaborative or shared Lenses that let you interact with another friend on their own phone, which could open up new opportunities for the app in the future. Some of the first Snappables previewed by Snapchat include an Asteroids-style space shooter, a bubble gum popping contest, a weight lifting one you play by straining your forehead, a kiss-blowing game, an egg catching competition, and a dance party.
The Killer Features blog first spotted Snappables in Snapchat’s code, though originally thought it was a collaborative Snap creation option. Snapchat acquired game engine PlayCanvas last month but it’s unclear if that contributed to the Snappables experience. The games look similar to Tribe’s multiplayer selfie video chat games we wrote about this month and predicted Snapchat would copy.
These aren’t Snapchat’s first selfie games, though. Back in 2016, it tried a Kraft Mac & Cheese noodle catching game, and a holiday elf skiing game that used your face. It’s also worked with partners like Gatorade to build ads the open up to interactive experiences that live inside Snapchat, like a Serena Williams tennis game.
To play Snappables, you select one of the game Lenses from the Snapchat camera and then follow the on-screen instructions. Some you play solo and try to get the highest score, while others let you invite friends to play simultaneously. You can send a Snap of you playing to a friend, which they can use to jump in and play too.
Snapchat could use Snappables to strengthen growth after years of battling Instagram for users, and a big redesign that’s received harsh reviews. I can imagine more art-based co-creation Snappables coming in the future where you cooperate to create a masterpiece. Of course, Instagram probably won’t be far behind in offering games inside Stories.
If the goal of apps like Snapchat is to make people feel like they’re together even when they’re apart, games could help achieve that feeling of co-presence. Sometimes you don’t have anything to talk about or show off. That’s partly why Snapchat got into augmented reality in the first place — to make life more interesting and shareable. But with the challenge, competition, and excitement inherent in games, Snappables could help people make memories together no matter the distance in between.
Here’s more video and photos showing off Snappables: