Pengpeng is a social gaming app that takes advantage of the mobile messaging trend. Its design is similar to that of a mobile messaging app that allows for chatting/group-chatting, and adding contacts from your phone’s address book or Chinese social networks (WeChat, QQ IM/Q-zone and Weibo), or add strangers by shaking your phone or searching for users nearby. The iOS version also includes a social sharing feature, like WeChat’s Moment.
Any user in a chat session can initiate a game and invite the other user/other group members to join in. There are also choices of stand-alone games. All the games are Web-based that users don’t need to download them.
Currently four categories of small games are available, social games, puzzle games, skill games and sports games. The game results can be shared onto the aforementioned social networks.
Pengpeng generates analytics results for players in the same chat session, showing how well you perform compared with your friend(s) in the same session.
Some features created are for having users stick around, such as rewards of virtual points for daily check-ins. Users cannot become friends on Pengpeng if they interact for fewer than three times.
Thanks to the mobile messaging zeal, social games have become popular in China again — Several years ago social gaming got hugely popular on China’s PC-based Web, especially on social services such as Tencent’s QQ IM, Renren and Kaixin001. And WeChat is the most popular platform currently that users share game scores, invites or other promo messages on Moment or directly with their WeChat friends.
Several social games went viral on WeChat in the past year or so. Almost all of them are Web-based (Some are powered by HTML5) that users can play them directly after opening a shared post on WeChat.
Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, knows better on how explosive social games can be on a social platform: The company made tons of money from social games through virtual item sales on its QQ IM platform. So most of the first games launched on WeChat include social elements, such as score sharing feature and charts.
So, is it far away from the launch of Tencent’s? Andy Tian, co-founder of Asia Innovations (the developer of Pengpeng) and former GM at Zynga China, told TechNode that they didn’t think Tencent would follow suit. The conclusion is based partly on the understanding in the Chinese social giant of his co-founder, Ouyang Yun, a former mid-level exec at Tencent. I doubt so.
Andy Tian left Zynga China in mid-2013 during the company’s massive layoffs. Pengpeng is actually like a Zynga for mobile, channeling users from social networks and engage them with games. Some argue that Zynga’s problem is, thanks to the rapid growth of the mobile Internet, its PC Web-based business declined and its mobile business didn’t move fast enough. WeChat began making money from early on with virtual item purchases supported by WeChat Payment. Pengpeng hasn’t begin offering paid items and all the games so far are for free.