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Mobile Apps

First game for Facebook Messenger draws a familiar picture

The first game has launched for the Facebook Messenger app -- a game similar to Draw Something, where players take turns guessing what the other has drawn.

Look familiar? Clay

With its Messenger app for mobile and for desktops, Facebook has been trying hard to separate its instant messaging service from its social network app and website, competing with free messaging services such as WhatsApp.

Now the divide has separated even further, with a new game exclusively available to play within the app on iOS and Android -- the first since the launch of Messenger.

Previously, Messenger's complementary apps (which could be accessed by tapping "..." in a chat window) was limited to things like meme apps, photo and video apps, and gif apps, which would allow you to send images, videos, memes and gifs to friends.

The choice of game is an odd one. It's called Doodle Draw, and it's very reminiscent of OMGPOP's fDraw Something, a sort of Pictionary-for-mobile that saw a few brief weeks of white-hot popularity before being purchased by Zynga and haemorrhaging users at an insane rate.

The game will be familiar to anyone who boarded the Draw Something train. First, you pick a word from a list of options, each of which offers one, two or three coins dependent on the difficulty level of the word. Then, you draw a picture of that word on your phone's touchscreen with an interface like a pared-down MS Paint. You can even purchase colour packs for in-game currency.

Send your finished creation to a friend, who has to guess what it is using a selection of letters at the bottom of the screen. If they get it right, you are awarded coins.

So far, the game seems to be devoid of in-app purchases, which is promising. What is less promising is the fact that the first toe dipped into the Messenger gaming pond is a copycat of a game that crashed so dramatically: At its peak in 2012, it had over 50 million downloads. As of October last year, it had around just 1.1 million active monthly users.

Then again, perhaps a tried-and-true success, even a brief one, might be the best way for testing the waters of Messenger gaming, particularly if developer Clay can avoid the IAP and intrusive advertising that contributed to the downfall of Draw Something.

Facebook did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

You can download Doodle Draw for iOS here and for Android here.