Fortnite video chat app Houseparty to close

Technology

BBC News 10 September, 2021 - 06:43am 79 views

Is houseparty getting shut down?

Houseparty, the group video-chat app that grew popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, is shutting down in October, the company said Thursday. The app, acquired by “Fortnite” maker Epic Games Inc. in 2019, will be removed from app stores immediately, said Houseparty, formally known as Life on Air Inc. The Wall Street JournalEpic Games’ Houseparty App to Shut Down in October

Party's over for Houseparty as Epic Games announces imminent shutdown

Mashable 10 September, 2021 - 05:48am

As it turns out, that investment may have been short-lived as an Epic Games representative has informed TechCrunch that it plans to shut the app down in October of this year, including its 'Fortnite Mode' feature.

The application is being removed from app stores with immediate effect, though Epic has stated that people who already have Houseparty downloaded can continue to use it until service is terminated. Epic has also stressed that nobody on the Houseparty team will lose their job, claiming they will be assigned to other teams to develop social interactions across the Epic Games family of products.

Houseparty rapidly became a favorite chat app among folks staying inside during the height of the pandemic, with an average of over 2 million people downloads per week during March 2020, and faced what was attributed as a targeted smear campaign within the same month, leading Epic Games to offer a reward of $1 million to anyone who could provide proof of sabotage. Epic Games stated at the time that the application is secure and was never compromised, claiming that there was no evidence of the app interfering or hacking other applications that are already installed on the phone. 

It's unclear if this smear campaign is directly connected to the app closure, and Epic has offered no insight into its decision other than to claim that the Houseparty team could no longer give the app the attention it required, despite support for live streaming being integrated into the app less than six months ago.

According to data from Apptopia, Houseparty has been continually declining since it hit peak downloads back in May 2020, likely due to a combination of other apps like Clubhouse, Zoom and Facebook Messenger Rooms gaining some ground. But there's also the likelihood that people are more willing to go out and socialize in person with family or friends when compared to various global lockdowns last year.

If we look at the case rates for Covid-19 it's very apparent that we're not in the clear just yet, but the demand for apps like Zoom is fading and that drop is being attributed to a lack of demand in a post-pandemic world. As physical events return, people are keen to return to 'normal' after almost two years of living in a socially distance society.

A lack of demand for a service is typically why it would be shut down – after all, if it was making money then chances are they would have continued development and support, but it does appear that Epic has plans to implement social features into the wider metaverse it's building. 

Fortnite has hosted live events such as concerts from popular artists like Marshmello, Ariana Grande and Travis Scott, something that shows its evolution beyond just being a video game and more of an interactive online experience. The demise of Houseparty is unsurprising, but future developments from the team into Epic's other projects are worth keeping an eye on if Fortnite's experiential portfolio is anything to go by.

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Wave Goodbye to Houseparty

The Washington Post 09 September, 2021 - 07:00pm

The platform, which was purchased by Epic in 2019, allows multiple people to interact via video call. Popularity for the platform skyrocketed when covid-19 forced global lockdowns, with some 17 million downloads during March 2020, the month the pandemic began in earnest. In April, the app’s team announced an integration with Fortnite, allowing players of the iconic battle royale game to chat while playing and also stream their sessions.

While we must bid farewell to Houseparty, its parent company has promised to develop new cool stuff to replace the soon-to-be defunct product. “So what’s next? The team behind Houseparty is working on creating new ways to have meaningful and authentic social interactions at metaverse scale across the Epic Games family,” the company said.

Ah, yes, the metaverse—Silicon Valley’s new gimmick to stir up interest in virtual and augmented reality markets. For game developers like Epic, VR and AR are clearly common sense investments, given their potential to totally transform user gaming experience. On that front, Epic has apparently been aggressively prepping, raising $1 billion last year to invest in such new meta-projects, the Washington Post reports.

Epic is shutting down Houseparty

TechCrunch 09 September, 2021 - 02:00pm

The shutdown will happen in October

Houseparty, which was released by the creators of the popular Meerkat livestreaming app in 2016, was purchased by Epic in 2019, and Epic says that “tens of millions of people” have used the app. Going forward, however, “the team behind Houseparty is working on creating new ways to have meaningful and authentic social interactions at metaverse scale across the Epic Games family,” Epic said.

That seems to indicate that Epic has more social features in the works for games like Fortnite and Rocket League that the Houseparty team will be contributing to, which could be important tools to keep gamers playing the ever-updating games. But for those who used Houseparty to chat with their friends and family, the impending shutdown means they’ll have to move those conversations to another messaging app.

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