Why in-app multi-player communication is essential
On July 10th 2008 Apple opened the App Store as an upgrade to the already existing iTunes Music Store. While the App Store is only 8 years old it looks as if it is already a grownup.
To date there are more than 2 million apps users can choose from for their iOS devices out of which 23% are gaming apps. Google Play is the largest store featuring around 2.2 million apps.
It is a crowded world.
Image: Number of apps on Google Play, Apple’s AppStore and others
Monetization models span one time download fee, in-app purchase (freemium model) and in-app advertisement. Given the overwhelming amount of applications users can choose from, charging download fees becomes hard.
On June 2016 Apple announced they would launch a subscription fee model so developers (and Apple) can enjoy a recurring fees.
In-app advertisement is for a long time a valid business model but according to AppsFlyr’s market report, the business model accountable for most of the mobile app revenue is in-app purchase and advertisement is losing its share.
Gaming is not only the #1 segment from number of apps standpoint but also #1 in in-purchase revenue. Being the #1 segment, competition is fierce and therefore developers are looking for those cool features that will allow for increased in-app purchase and user retention.
Multi-party games are common but adding voice and video to the game is less common and not easy. Some gamers keep a parallel session using tools such as Skype for communicating with other players or groups but that is out of context of the game.
Having multi-player communication as part of the game can improve user experience and allow game developers to keep this communication synced with context of the game and make it part of the game experience.
WebRTC to the rescue
Gaming developers are experts in…gaming. There are technical requirements in gaming similar to real-time communications. Mainly things related to minimal delay as game apps are delay sensitive else user experience will be compromised. But a typical game developer is not a VoIP expert. That’s why WebRTC is a natural solution for implementing multi-player communication in gaming applications.
There are several approaches developers can take for using WebRTC in their applications.
Do it yourself
Compile WebRTC into the gaming application and build all the required capabilities on the server side.
Use an API platform
That’s the easiest option technically.
On the business side, the business model of game apps is not per-use and given pricing of these platforms it makes this option challenging.
Another thing is that large companies will want more control over this capability have it hosted under their operations.
Use functional components
The third option is to take this technology and integrate it with their service. Control it as part of their signaling logic and host it in their data centers.
As one of those behind SwitchRTC, I’ll be happy to further discuss.