“Fortnite” creator Epic Games announced its acquisition of Houseparty, a social networking app for group video-chats, on Wednesday.
The price of the acquisition was not announced, but the unexpected deal immediately sparked speculation about what the maker of the most popular video game might do with the teen-focused chat app.
Officials from Epic Games and Houseparty stressed the social interaction aspects of each respective product. Fortnite has become a worldwide gaming phenomenon, allowing up to 100 people anywhere in the world to connect online and play in the same round.
Still, company officials were mum on specific plans to integrate the two products’ features.
Houseparty has been installed by 35 million users via App Store and Google Play, with 40 percent of those users outside of the US, according to mobile data analyst Sensor Tower. Users spend an average of one hour on the app everyday, Houseparty measures.
The joint press release focused on the shared vision for Epic Games and Houseparty to facilitate meaningful human connections through virtual means.
“Joining Epic is a great step forward in achieving our mission of bringing empathy to online communication,” Houseparty CEO Sima Sistani said in the press release. “We have a common vision to make human interaction easier and more enjoyable, and always with respect for user privacy.”
In a Tweet on the day of the announcement, Sistani predicted that the next decade of social media will be characterized not by sharing, but by participation.
“Houseparty brings people together, creating positive social interactions in real time,” Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said in the press release.
Houseparty will not be collapsed into Epic Games. Users with both Houseparty and Epic Games accounts will not be able to combine their accounts, and Houseparty will remain available as a standalone platform.
A spokesperson for Epic Games declined to comment on what an integration of Houseparty and Epic Games may look like in the future. However, a Tweet from Sistani highlights how users have already used the platforms together:
While Fortnite does have an in-game voice chat function, many players opt to use independent group chat programs to communicate with fellow gamers. The group chat networks, like Houseparty and Discord, have the added benefit of existing outside of the game as social media platforms; players can talk regardless of whether they’re gaming, unlike in-game voice chats. Could Epic Games’ acquisition of Houseparty mean incorporation of Houseparty’s social, video chat technology into video games like Fortnite?
Houseparty is no stranger to online gaming internally. Houseparty moved into the gaming space in January, when it began offering games for users to play with friends in-app. Its first game was Ellen DeGeneres’ mobile charades game Heads Up!. The Verge characterized this move as Houseparty’s “first effort to generate revenue.” In April, Houseparty launched a trivia game, and in May, it introduced word-association game, Chips and Guac.
The acquisition of Houseparty could yield a larger female demographic of Fortnite players, according to the The Wall Street Journal.
Epic Games made nearly $2.5 billion through “Fortnite” in 2018, and in January it acquired video graphic design firm 3Lateral, which specializes in hyper-realistic human CGI. It had amassed a total of 250 million registered players by March.