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Instagram’s Experimenting With Virtual Pets for Stories

Okay, this sounds a little weird, and a little engagement bait-y. But I can also absolutely see people getting into it.

A few months back, reverse engineer extraordinaire Alessandro Paluzzi shared this image of an in-development Instagram sticker called Pals.

Instagram Pals sticker

As you can see, the Pals sticker has an outline of a dog, and assuming this was some sort of pet-related feature, I didn’t really pay it much mind.

But then late last week, Paluzzi shared some additional images of the feature, which is not related to facilitating enhanced pictures with your actual pets, but is more like Tamagotchi within Instagram itself.

Instagram Pals sticker

As seen above, in this updated version of the Pals sticker, it’s actually a digital character, which you can add to your story. The more likes that people give your Stories updates that include the sticker, the more your virtual pet grows, while it may also have some interactive elements (the text here suggests that viewers can “play” with the digital character).

It’s not entirely clear how the functionality will work at this stage. Will you be able to see the pet that you’ve added grow, and/or will all users be able to see it? Will it be different for each user, in that each person who views your Stories will see a different version of the character based on how many times they’ve personally interacted with your updates?

Either way, the concept is that you may soon be able to add virtual pets to your IG Stotries, which will change in appearance over time, based on how many likes you get.

Which, as noted, feels like pretty blatant engagement bait. But if it works…

And you can imagine that it will work. People are still grinding for evolutions of Pokemon on Pokemon Go, which are just alternate forms of digital pixels on screen, and based on that logic alone, you can see how this could hold appeal. It also taps into similar compulsiveness to Snapchat’s message Streaks, which are hugely popular, and which TikTok is now trying to replicate.

I imagine that Stories pets will prove similarly engaging, and I can also imagine that young users, who IG really wants to keep around, will also find it especially interesting.

So while it does seem a little cheap, a little bait-like, I could see this being a hit.

Instagram hasn’t shared anything publicly about the Pals sticker as yet.

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