The Place of Real Time Communications in Mobile Gaming

Gaming has an interactive aspect to it. The best games offer interactions with other gamers, which is why real time communications has its place in gaming.

Until the age of 18, which was more than half a life ago for me, I have been an avid player of games. At the time, neither mobile nor real time communications were available. And yet, communicating while playing was something I did all the time. I’ve spent hours with one of my friends playing Golden Axe together, munching on homemade cookies and shouting at each other throughout the game.

Times have changed, but two basic needs that we have as humans haven’t:

  1. We are playful creatures with a need for games
  2. We are social creatures who interact with each other

Today games have progressed in many ways. They are a lot more advanced than they used to be, they are usually networked, and many of them are mobile.

How BIG is mobile gaming? Estimates are that in 2018 mobile gaming will be over 50% in revenue of all the gaming industry:

Which leads to that intersection of mobile and social, which is where real time communication can fit rather nicely.

Where do we see this happening today?

Collaborative and Competitive Gaming

Playing an online game with adversaries or partners? You may want to communicate with other players.

Unfortunately, many games don’t offer that capability as part of the game itself. Players are left to coordinate and connect via Skype, Discord and even Valve’s Steam of late — in essence — any service that offers voice conferences. They do that in parallel to playing the game online together. Think this is a minor nuisance? Check out this discussion around the best voice chat for gaming.

There are two challenges here:

  1. Most of the suggestions are external to the games themselves. Just look at the TOP PRO about Blizzard’s voice chat capabilities: “Built into the Battle.net App”
  2. Taking it a step further, why not add video into the mix? That can and does enrich the experience, especially in casual gaming

Mashing video chat with gaming is what Bunch is doing. Their mobile app, available on iOS at the moment, allows you to play specific featured games — over the video chat. In a way, this is a feature that can be added into the games themselves without a third party.

Want to learn more? Check out why Bunch picked Agora.

Trivia Shows

If you’ve been following the tech news in recent months, you probably heard about HQ Trivia if you haven’t downloaded it and played the game itself.

HQ Trivia is the answer to what happens when you combine the concepts of television trivia along with mobile and social. In HQ Trivia, a game host broadcasts his questions to all the players at the same time, letting them answer in real time. With prizes of thousands of dollars per day, it is no wonder that this grew to a phenomena that catches millions of people.

This kind of success immediately brings with it others who try to either replicate the experience or use it for their own use cases. Up to the point where the web is filled with questions (and answers) of how to build similar apps.

An interesting side effect to this popularity is the growing number of adjacent use cases that are experimenting and looking at this trivia show concept. Gravy.live for example marries it with the shopping experience — you join a daily shopping game show and interact with the broadcaster to compete on cash prizes and deals.

Expect to see more game and trivia shows find their digital/mobile/cloud incarnation with the help of live broadcast technologies.

Esports and its role in gaming

Esports is definitely on the rise. I’ve been a gamer in my good old days — when my hair wasn’t gray and I slept well past 9 am. Which is probably why I can’t fathom is phenomena. I am just as happy to play a computer game as any other person, but who would have thought watching others play video games would be as captivating as a sports game? So much so that there are talks to include Esports as demonstration sport in the Paris 2024 olympics.

When it comes to gaming, it is becoming hard to distinguish who is the player and who is the passive viewers, especially when games and gaming platforms are trying to move viewers from their passivity towards being a part of the gaming experience itself.

Back to you

This is far from an exhaustive or extensive list of how real time communications can be used in gaming. In a way, it is just the tip of the iceberg and where you see gaming platforms succeeding today.

I am sure there are some interesting use cases revolving around real time communications, gaming and augmented or virtual reality. And there are definitely other gaming types and interactions that I haven’t covered here.

Share your own thoughts in the comments below.

written by
Tsahi Levent-Levi
Analyst & Consultant
BlogGeek.me