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Facebook wants to be your new games arcade

With a new feature called Instant Games, you'll be able to play old school hits including Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Galaga, as well as modern games on the social network.

Facebook is seeking to snag some of your leisure time with Instant Games.

Pac-Man will soon be chomping up your Facebook feed.

The social network on Tuesday unveiled a new feature called Instant Games that lets people play games on their news feeds and on the chat app Facebook Messenger, without installing any new apps.

In addition to Pac-Man, there are classics like Space Invaders and Galaga. There are also modern games like Zynga's Words with Friends: Frenzy and Shuffle Cats Mini, a game by King, maker of Candy Crush. Right now, there are 17 games available, but Facebook wants game developers to add to the list.

The one thing all the games have in common is they are based on racking up a high score, instead of, say, a role-playing game where you move through a world.

To play the games, tap on the new game controller icon at the bottom of the Facebook Messenger app. There, you'll be taken to a new section of the app that will let you play and discover new games. With the new feature, you'll be able to see leaderboards, chat with friends about games and compete with people on Messenger.

In the main Facebook app, there's a new Instant Games tab where you can view games. You'll also be able to post recommendations and challenges.

For Facebook, the nostalgia factor was important.

"We're going to re-engage a bunch of people" who might not have tried the new games feature if it didn't include a familiar gem like Pac-Man, said Leo Olebe, Facebook's global games partnerships director. "People get it right away."

Facebook is already the place you wish friends a happy birthday, announce big life events and get your news (both real and fake). But now the company wants to make Facebook an even bigger hub for games.

The social network isn't the only internet giant that has bet big on games. Google has Google Play Games, its online marketplace for downloading mobile games. And YouTube, also owned by Google, last year launched YouTube Gaming, for game-related video content and live streaming. In 2014, Amazon bought Twitch, another site for video game live streaming, for almost a billion dollars.

You may still have nightmares about the last time Facebook went game crazy. Maybe you got inundated with notifications from friends inviting you to play Farmville or Candy Crush. (Or, you were the friend doing the inundating.)

The notification deluge won't happen this time around, Olebe promised.

That's because developers now have a better idea of how people on the internet engage with games, and most games are no longer designed with such a big emphasis in going viral, he said. In case you do get a spike in notifications, you can mute threads on Messenger or hide posts on your Facebook news feed.

The Instant Games service is coming to 30 countries, including the US, Japan and Australia. It's available on the web, Apple's iPhones and phones running Google's Android mobile software.

Here's the entire list of games available at launch:

  • Pac-Man (Bandai Namco Entertainment)
  • Galaga (Bandai Namco Entertainment)
  • Arkanoid (Taito Corporation)
  • Space Invaders (Taito Corporation)
  • Track & Field 100M (Konami Digital Entertainment)
  • Words with Friends: Frenzy (Zynga)
  • Shuffle Cats Mini (King)
  • EverWing (Blackstorm)
  • Hex (FRVR)
  • Endless Lake (Spilgames)
  • Templar 2048 (Vonvon)
  • The Tribez: Puzzle Rush (Game Insight)
  • 2020 Connect (Softgames)
  • Puzzle Bobble (Taito Corporation / Blackstorm)
  • Zookeeper (Kiteretsu)
  • Brick Pop (Gamee)
  • Wordalot Express (MAG Interactive)