In a first for the social gaming scene, BigPoint is announcing that they will be partnering with Vivox to release Voice Chat over their suite of social games at bigpoint.com. This comes only a week after Vivox raised $7 million from IDG Ventures, and their statement that “Voice is an essential part of the explosive growth of the social web.” BigPoint games is a massive gaming community, boasting over 100,000,000 registered users and a wide variety of games across many genres.
While BigPoint.com has typically not been considered as falling under the ‘social games’ banner, their emphasis on that label highlights a few interesting ideas. Typically, social games have referred to games on social networks, but looking at their stable of titles and features, we do see games that have all the elements of popular Facebook games.
One look at a BigPoint Games gamer page tells you this is a social network of its own. Statuses, messages, wall posts, recent games played and friends lists round out the social features of the site. Combine that with games like Sea Wars that have a vast array of players in its world, over 30,000 guilds and entirely customizable experiences and a new social gaming world is realized.
The question of whether a game like Sea Wars would succeed on Facebook is surely a difficult one, but the game thrives on BigPoint.com, and the addition of voice chat to the gameplay would be very similar to seeing voice chat on a game like Gangster City on Facebook. The success of Vivox on BigPoint may determine whether we see this option for Social Networking games in the future.
Vivox, who powers the voice chat for huge developers like NCSoft (Eve Online), Sony Online Entertainment and others, has steadily been applying fun social elements to their voice offering, and with the BigPoint release comes voice fonts, voice mailboxes and phone numbers designed to link offline users to the online community. It’s an angle that we haven’t seen in social games so far, and is interesting to consider. Could you imagine a game like Farmville allowing voice chat between the players who are online?