Facebook adds free games like ‘Pac-Man’ to Messenger app

NEW YORK (AP) — You can now play “Pac-Man” with your Facebook Messenger buddies.

Facebook is adding the option to play games with your contacts on the messaging app beginning Tuesday. You can access the feature in the latest version of the app by tapping a game controller icon.

Games available include classics such as “Pac-Man,” “Space Invaders” and “Galaga,” as well as newer titles like “Words With Friends.” It’s the latest effort by the world’s biggest social network to get people to spend even more time on its properties.

Messenger has a billion users. The app will recommend games based on whether your friends play. Currently there is no way to play with people who are not your Messenger contacts, so if your friends don’t like to play games, you are out of luck.

Called “Instant Games,” the feature will begin in 30 countries, with 17 titles, though more will come. In addition to Messenger, users can also play solo games in their Facebook news feed.

Facebook tested the waters with two simple Messenger games earlier this year — soccer and basketball, both of which involved flicking balls on the screen with your finger. They proved popular.

Facebook has a long history with gaming, which began with “FarmVille” years ago when people logged in using desktop computers. But since then, Facebook gaming has sort of fallen by the wayside, even as mobile games from “Candy Crush” to “Pokemon Go” have remained popular. Facebook hopes to change that with its Instant Games.

The games themselves are simple to play, and like the earlier soccer and basketball games, load inside Messenger and don’t open in a separate app.