New Delhi: Video chat app ‘Houseparty’, which raked in two million global downloads last week, has gone viral amid worldwide lockdowns to curb the Covid-19 outbreak .
Since 2 March, the number of global downloads of the app has been growing at a much faster pace than other popular video conferencing apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype. Unlike other apps, Houseparty works on “gamified video networking”, which means it has in-app games that can be played by participants while they are on a video call.
With more people self-isolating to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the San Francisco-based app is being used not only among millennials and Generation Z teenagers but also their parents.
Owned by Fortnight developer Epic Games, the app is riding a second wave of growth. It was first launched in February 2016 and 10 months later reported around one million daily active users, 60 per cent of whom were under the age of 24. By September 2017, it reported 20 million users and a daily average use of 51 minutes. However, in 2018, the app struggled to compete with rising platforms like TikTok and Instagram stories and user growth plateaued.
Games and special features
In a 2016 interview, CEO and co-founder Sima Sistani said the app is meant to be “casual and easy.” “We did a lot of research and thinking around Generation Z, kids born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s, and how they use social media and what kind of experience they are looking for when they do,” she added.
Houseparty largely works on social spontaneity and impromptu live conversations. For example, when a user is online, his/her friends receive a push notification that they are “in the house”, the recipient may be prompted to join. Users can also enter friends’ conversations without their permission, unless they have specifically chosen to “lock” their room.
The platform is widely popular for blending games and quizzes with video-conferencing. Games include the Ellen Degeneres-inspired Heads Up, general trivia, pictionary-like ‘Quick Draw’ and word association game, ‘Chips and Guac’.
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