With its recent acquisition of 3D gaming engine PlayCanvas, Snapchat parent Snap, Inc. appears to be preparing a challenge to the existing players in the world of game development, particularly in terms of augmented and virtual reality gaming.
The acquisition appears to have taken place last year based on financial records uncovered by Business Insider (paywall) that detail a transfer of PlayCanvas shares to Snap in May 2017. Snap subsequently filed a trademark for PlayCanvas with the US Patent and Trademark Office in Jan. 2018.
The open-source game engine developed by PlayCanvas has already enabled developers for Disney, Nickelodeon, and King to build browser-based games for social networks and web browsers. PlayCanvas is also capable of running augmented and virtual reality content via browsers. Among its offerings is PlayCanvasAR, which enables users to build web-based AR applications with a drag-and-drop interface.
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The trademark application language hints at a number of potential uses for the acquisition, as Snap as filed PlayCanvas as a wordmark in three categories pertaining to web and mobile content: software for creating interactive content, a website for online games, and a web-based software development tool for 3D interactive content, APIs, or cloud computing.
The company already offers a development environment for Snapchat with its Lens Studio software, so integrating PlayCanvas would be logical and practical. Snapchat has already shown a penchant for lightweight games in its Lenses that would only be enhanced with the capabilities demonstrated by PlayCanvas.
Then again, PlayCanvas could continue to operate as a separate entity (and revenue stream) for use in other apps, much in the way that Bitmoji integrates with other apps separate from Snapchat. This could also put Snap on a collision course with Unity and Unreal Engine 4 for game development, or lead to another battlefront against Facebook as a social gaming portal.
Let the speculation games begin! Tell us what you think Snapchat has planned for this acquisition in the comments below.