In an effort to compete with Tencent, Alibaba reveals the first of its mobile games
The games are available via the newest version of Alibaba's Laiwang mobile messaging app
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has revealed the first three games to emerge from the company's new mobile gaming branch.
Available through version 4.5 of Laiwang, Alibaba's messaging software, as well as via the company's Taobao mobile app, the three games are dubbed Pa Pa Pa, Po Po Po, and Crazy Toy.
All of the games bear a strong resemblance to titles currently available for other messaging apps.
Pa Pa Pa, for example, has players controlling cuddly characters and blowing up coloured bubbles - strongly reminiscent of LINE Bubble, a game heavily promoted through the LINE messaging app, which is run by the Japanese subsidiary of Korean company Naver.
Crazy Toy, on the other hand, is reminiscent of Candy Crush Saga, a puzzle game created by British developer King that has proven consistently popular on the Apple iOS and Google Play stores.
The launch of Alibaba's games seems to coincide with the January 26 worldwide release of version 5.2 of Tencent's popular WeChat software - one of the most widely-used messaging apps in China and the major competitor to Alibaba's Laiwang.
WeChat began offering downloable games through its messaging services to mainland subscribers in August of last year.
One of its most popular titles, a shoot-'em-up game called "Airplane Wars", was so popular amongst the country's millions of WeChat users that it even sent some players into the hospital with cases of De Qiervain syndrome - also known as "gamer's thumb."
In early January of this year, Tencent began unveiling localisations of its WeChat games for a global audience, and four titles - Craz3 Match, GunZ Dash, 2Day's Match, and an English version of "Airplane Wars" dubbed Pencil Pilot are currently available for the international version of WeChat.
Currently, WeChat services about 300 million monthly active users worldwide, and a recent study by web design and development team Go-Globe revealed that the company led China's game developers in revenue last year, raking in over 8.42 billion yuan (HK$ 11 billion).
Despite these daunting statistics, on January 8, Alibaba spokesman Wang Shuai wrote on the company's microblog that games developed for Laiwang would be specifically designed to compete with Tencent's WeChat titles.
"We are unhappy with Tencent's monopoly in this industry, which has ruined its ecosystem," Wang said, suggesting that Alibaba would work to court mobile game developers and create competition. "We have to help to fight for a healthy environment for game development."