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Snapchat will debut a longform sci-fi thriller story told in a series of texts

Snapchat will debut a longform sci-fi thriller story told in a series of texts


Snap is trying its hand at experimental fiction to bring users back

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Hooked, an app that makes “chat fiction” on mobile, is making its first longform story on Snapchat. It’s a hybrid of science fiction, mystery, and thriller called “Dark Matter” that takes place in Silicon Valley, as reported by Variety.

In “Dark Matter,” a South Asian-American college student at Stanford investigates her twin sister’s mysterious death, while discovering that she has the ability to interact with dark matter. There are five installments to the story, and they’ll be released daily starting today and ending on October 30th. The stories will be translated into Arabic, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Norwegian. Snap and Hooked will share ad revenue from the series, Variety reports.

Snap is turning to fiction to regain its user base

Snap is not doing very well as a company. Today, its shares dropped 10 percent to a new all-time low of $6 per share following its less-than-stellar earnings report, which detailed a 2 million daily active user drop attributed to poor Android app performance. In addition to its issues with retaining Android users and the fallout from its disastrous redesign, Snap has also had a number of PR disasters that paint it as a fading fad among teenaged smartphone owners.

Back in February, Kylie Jenner tweeted that she wasn’t using Snapchat anymore, and it was “so sad,” while Rihanna feuded with Snapchat over poorly curated ads that made fun of domestic abuse. More critical to Snap’s health is that users are simply ditching Snapchat for Instagram and its Stories clone, and the impact has been showing up in the company’s bottom line for months now.

Even as Snapchat’s user growth falters, the company is still searching for new revenue streams, which is why it’s homing in on chat fiction and other experimental forms of mobile storytelling. Earlier this month, Snap announced a slate of self-produced programming called Snap Originals that will live in the Discover tab. Some are scripted series, and others are reality shows.

Meanwhile, Hooked hit number two in Top Free Apps in the iOS App Store last year. It works by showing you a series of texts that are part of a story. Once you’re hooked on the story, you might run into the app’s paywall that lets you read more if you make an in-app purchase or if you wait 40 minutes. By now, Hooked’s popularity has waned, and it has already fallen out of the top 200 apps. The story it’s producing with Snapchat marks its first venture into a longer-form story, and it includes a mix of voice narration, illustrations, and the chat fiction it’s known for.