Google's Area 120 brings quick web games to slow phones

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
Area 120/Google

Google is countering Facebook's Instant Games with its own bid to make web games more accessible. Its Area 120 experimental lab is introducing GameSnacks, HTML5-based casual games that are designed to load quickly and play well even on poor connections and basic smartphones. The combination of a lean initial web page, compressed media and just-in-time loading means you can start playing within just a few seconds, even on a phone with less than a 1Mbps connection (all too common in the world) and just 1GB of RAM.

All titles work with both touch as well as a PC's mouse and keyboard, and are designed to run on virtually any platform and device. Like many casual games, they're designed to be playable with a minimum of instructions -- important when they're meant to reach people across many different languages. Some are not-so-subtle riffs on familiar titles like Puzzle Bobble and Tetris, but that's probably not a bad thing for gamers who otherwise couldn't play those games on their phones.

GameSnacks are available directly on the web, but people in Indonesia (and eventually elsewhere in southeast Asia) will soon have access to them through the "super app" Gojek. Google may not have Facebook's advantage for distributing games (it can pitch users more directly), but it's clearly betting that wider compatibility will help it reach players who can't even consider other web games.