Pokerface: A classic card game is updated to an interactive mobile app that brings players together worldwide with real-time voice chat, video chat and messaging.
It all started with a big idea between two friends that grew up together, Or Ben Shimon and Idan Shriki. While reminiscing, they thought back to the fun they had playing Saturday night poker and wishing there was a way that they could still enjoy those moments with their friends around the table. They decided not to fold and set out to create an interactive gaming experience grounded in human interaction.
Their goal was to build the world’s first premium, multiplayer poker game for mobile devices with all-inclusive voice, video and messaging features that could unite players all over the world. They founded Comunix, Ltd. in Tel Aviv, Israel, and released their first mobile app, Pokerface – Texas Hold’em Poker with Friends, in 2018.
The Tools to Modernize
Forming their new business, the friends laid out their requirements. As a small startup, speed and simplicity for development iterations were key so it was important to develop a cross-platform product that could support both Android and iOS with one code base. The Unity 3D development platform—with its cross-platform support, massive catalog of game-making plugins available in the Unity Asset Store, and its thriving support community—was the obvious choice to meet these needs.
Enabling face-to-face play was going to require voice, video and messaging capabilities. The Comunix team chose Agora, a Unity Verified Solutions Partner, because, with only a few lines of code, it was fast and easy to implement and provided superior video quality with low latency.
Using these development tools to quickly execute their vision, Pokerface was released 6 months later for people to enjoy. Pokerface delivers interactive, face-to-face play using real-time video chat, engaging up to five friends from any part of the world. The app notifications makes it effortless to engage, alerting players when their friends are in the game or connecting them with others who are ready to play.
- Millions of downloads on both iOS and Android
- Daily active users increased by 10X in the last two years
- An average rating of 4.7 on a 5 star scale
- Increased daily engagement time by 35% more than industry average
- Opened new monetization channels through monetizing social filters, masks and virtual gifting
“With the popularity of live video rising in the gaming industry, we saw the perfect opportunity to integrate group video into Pokerface. The Unity platform and Agora SDK, backed by their amazing support teams, made it super easy for us to implement and scale. To deploy with a fast time-to-market, Unity3D and Agora were a perfect combination.”
—Or Ben Shimon, CEO and Cofounder, Comunix
Real-Time Engagement: The Power to Connect
Being social is human nature. People constantly look for deeper connections and often seek real-time engagement through their favorite games with both friends and strangers alike. Video and voice chat are increasingly in demand because they provide much of the same richness that in-person interactions do.
Idan Shrinki, Comunix COO, points out, “A lively Pokerface game allows users to fill a natural need, find commonality, feel happier and bond. People need that connection, especially when situations are uncertain.”
That connection is what differentiates current mobile gaming from the early days. One-dimensional, single-player games like Tetris or Snake, are almost a thing of the past. People now flock to video games that deliver a fully immersive experience.
“A high-quality, real-time video solution greatly enhances the interactivity of players. From casual games to eSports, the gaming industry is transforming. We want to be ahead of the curve,” explains Ben Shimon, Comunix CEO.
Rami Amar, Comunix CTO, continues, “A clean user interface, the emotional connection of seeing and hearing your opponent, gauging their gestures and facial expressions—it all combines to create engaging competition that transcends the boundaries of physical distance.”
Great User Experience Depends on High Video Quality
For online multiplayer gaming to be successful, both Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) must be achieved and maintained. These metrics go hand-in-hand and are a significant factor when evaluating wireless network options including network congestion, data transmission, video quality, and packet loss or jitter.
To achieve Quality of Service, Agora voice and video technology provides reliable, frictionless, mobile-to-mobile connectivity regardless of device, operating system, or geographic location.
Quality of Experience can’t be achieved with a game that constantly lags or abruptly shuts down. It only takes one bad experience with playability to affect player retention. Therefore, in creating seamless user experiences and player satisfaction, it’s important that data servers adapt to varying changes of the rendered video streams on every mobile device.
Amar states, “Agora’s superior infrastructure and extensive global networks deliver sub-second latency and a small footprint, ensuring a harmonious end-user experience for the gamers.”
Classic Poker Revamped: More Engaging than Ever
Video interaction within Pokerface is one of several features that creates an enticing and engaging experience for players, dramatically increasing user retention. As players hone their poker skills, monetized app features like unique virtual gifting, spin-the-wheel for chips, beer-drinking, and virtual money generate the app’s revenue stream.
What’s Next for Comunix?
Pokerface is the first of many upcoming games Comunix plans to release that will prominently feature voice and video to enhance user engagement. Today, Comunix consists of over 25 passionate individuals that come from a variety of backgrounds, bringing together a wide range of personal and professional skills. They are first and foremost gamers at heart, each contributing to a company culture that is rich and diverse in thought and talent.
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