It’s been long-awaited, but Chinese Internet firm Tencent has finally started the international rollout of games it released for its mobile messaging app WeChat, a crucial step in its evolution to become more like a social platform and not just a chat app.

WeChat games are finally available worldwide now. The Game Center is located under the ‘Discover’ tab in the messaging service, and there are three titles at launch — Craz3 Match, Gunz Dash and 2Day’s Match. Clicking on the ‘download’ button for each specific game listed in WeChat takes you to the App Store where you have to download it separately.

WeChat Games 730x433 Chinese messaging app WeChat takes its games across the world in a bid to become a social platform

You can either play these games solo, or play with your WeChat friends and compare your scores with theirs. Making full use of its location-based services, WeChat players can also search for other players nearby to find opponents.

In August last year, Tencent introduced games to Weixin, the version of WeChat available in China. In November, the WeChat Game Center took its first step overseas after being rolled out in Hong Kong.

Games are already showing promise on Tencent’s Weixin and QQ platforms, even if only in mainland China. Five games released through the two services had 570 million registered users within three months.

However, a recent report from  Chinese Android app store Wandoujia – which monitors trends in China’s mobile market based on its downloads — noted that WePop, a game that shot to popularity via WeChat, plummeted from its peak within one month, and observed that “virality is no guarantee of retention.” When asked about this, Louis Song, the country manager of Singapore and Malaysia at Tencent’s international business group, told TNW that it is normal for users to get bored of games easily, and that the company will strive to roll out new games regularly.

WeChat’s rival, Japanese messaging service Line, already offers over 30 games to its 300 million registered users worldwide, and passed 200 million game downloads in September — providing a strong case for mobile gaming within a social service.

WeChat has more than 270 million active users worldwide, and getting them engaged in games could help the company monetize via avenues such as in-app game purchases.

Headline image via WeChat