LinkedIn plans to add gaming to its platform

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LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned social platform, has made a name for itself primarily as a platform for people looking to network and pick up knowledge for professional purposes, and for recruitment — a business that now has more 1 billion users. Now, to boost the time people are spending on the platform, the company is breaking into a totally new area: gaming.

TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that LinkedIn is working on a new games experience. It will be doing so by tapping into the same wave of puzzle-mania that helped simple games like Wordle find viral success and millions of players. Three early efforts are games called “Queens”, “Inference” and “Crossclimb.”

App researchers have started to find code that points to the work LinkedIn is doing. One of them, Nima Owji, said that one idea LinkedIn appears to be experimenting with involves player scores being organised by places of work, with companies getting “ranked” by those scores.

BREAKING: #LinkedIn is working on IN-APP GAMES!

There are going to be a few different games and companies will be ranked in the games based on the scores of their employees!

Pretty cool and fun, in my opinion!

— Nima Owji (@nima_owji) March 16, 2024

A spokesperson for LinkedIn has confirmed that it is working on gaming, but said there is as yet no launch date.

“We’re playing with adding puzzle-based games within the LinkedIn experience to unlock a bit of fun, deepen relationships, and hopefully spark the opportunity for conversations,” the spokesperson said in a message to TechCrunch. “Stay tuned for more!”

The spokesperson added that the images shared by the researcher on X are not the latest versions.

(Update: some updated pictures have now been supplied, which we’re embedding below.)

LinkedIn’s owner Microsoft is a gaming behemoth. Its games business — which includes Xbox, Activision Blizzard and ZeniMax — brought in $7.1 billion in revenues last quarter, passing Windows revenues for the first time.

The LinkedIn spokesperson declined to say how and if Microsoft is involved in the gaming project at LinkedIn.

Games are regularly among the most popular apps for mobile phones and PCs — both in terms of revenues and engagement — and puzzle-based casual games has been one of the most popular categories in the space among mobile users. Non-gaming platforms have long tapped into these facts to boost their own traffic — arguably a trend that preceded the internet, if you think about the popularity of crosswords and other puzzles in newspapers and magazines.

The New York Times, which acquired the viral hit Wordle in 2022, said at the end of last year that that millions of people continue to play the game, which is now part of a bigger platform of online puzzles and games developed by the newspaper.

Others that have doubled down on gaming have seen mixed results. Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, has been a major driver of social gaming over the years. But in 2022 it shut down its standalone gaming app amid a decline in usage: it’s putting significantly more focus these days on mixed reality experiences and its Meta Quest business.

Over the years, LinkedIn has tried out a number of different new features over the years to boost how and how much people use its platform, with the strategy possibly best described as: “how can we take the most popular tools people are using right now and make them relevant to LinkedIn’s audience and focus on the world of work?”

Those have ranged from efforts in online education and professional development, through to a publishing and news operation, bringing in more video tools and courting creators and influencers.

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