Multi-platform messenger app Kakao Talk has extended its built-in gaming platform to iOS devices in Japan, following a successful launch and international rollout on Android.

Serkan Toto has reported today that the following titles are now available to download for both iOS and Android devices in Japan; Tap Tap Blitz, Puzzle Zoo Zoo, Sushi Panic and ZooZoo Bubble. In addition PocketColony, created by Japanese developer Cocone, is exclusive to the iOS platform, while Anipang and Crossword Puzzle remain Android-only.

An article by Nikkei today says that Kakao Talk is planning to release an extra 100 online multiplayer games this year; an attempt to increase its current user base of almost nine million users in Japan so that it can challenge NHN Japan Corp’s Line – its biggest rival in the area.

It’s an interesting approach to a mobile communications app. Western equivalents such as WhatsApp and Viber have stuck to the original concept and core functionality of a multi-platform messenger app, which relies on the user’s Internet connection to call or text one another.

Services such as Kakao Talk want to increase that offering though, thereby keeping users dialed into the app for as long as possible. The app already offers an item store for additional themes, animated emoticons, stickers and sound effects, as well as the new aforementioned gaming service.

Line, however, is the dominant mobile messaging app in Japan at the moment, and also offers video games as part of its core app experience. Kakao Talk has tried to combat this by partnering with Yahoo Japan, but as of yet it doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact.

Back in November, we reported that Kakao Talk had been downloaded more than 65 million times worldwide. The company launched Kakao Games for its native users in Korea last July, generating 82 million downloads from 23 million unique users during its launch period. It meant the company took in $51.6 million over the first couple of months, with $35.3 million generated in October alone.

Kakao Talk users can download new games and play with each other inside the messaging app, as well as compare scores and view leaderboards. Players can also buy virtual items and make in-app purchases using the virtual currency ‘Chocos’ deployed by Kakao Talk.

Clearly, Kakao is looking not only to increase user engagement with its messaging service, but also find new avenues for monetization. Video games is a sensible choice due to its inherent social aspect, and although it hasn’t been confirmed yet, we wouldn’t be surprised if Kakao Games gets an international release on iOS in the near future – the fact that Tap Tap Blitz is already available in the US App Store is a promising sign.

Image Credit: PARK JI-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images