Real Time Communications Featured Article

WebRTC and Gaming

May 19, 2015

Online gaming is big business.  A report by Newzoo predicts gaming will be worth $86 billion by 2016. Big Fish Games estimates over 59 percent of Americans play games – that’s over 150 million people – with titles ranging from Call of Duty to Mine Craft.  Each year brings increasing demands for real time communication (RTC) to be present and improved with every new release. 




Advanced massive multiplayer online games that pit opponents against each other and/or enable teams of people to cooperate together already incorporate real time voice communication.  Being able to discuss strategy, warn teammates, and talk trash when beating others are all higher-end requirements for online games, especially those that need a “hands free” mode to work game controls.   Real time text chat just doesn’t cut it for time-sensitive games where you need to slay the (virtual) dragon as quickly as possible.

WebRTC will enable small to mid-sized gaming companies to quickly and easily add voice and video to existing gaming platforms. But developers are also tapping into WebRTC technology for its data channels, enabling peer-to-peer multiplayer games.  Data is passed back and forth between players and servers in real-time.

via Shutterstock

“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is one of the best examples of a large scale implementation of peer-to-peer (P2P) game play using WebRTC data channels within the Chrome browser on the Android operating system.  It leverages the touch screen experience on a smartphone to enable multiple players to compete in P2P battles, with a JavaScript game engine handing the syncing of the state and RTC messaging between the two players and peers. You can find the game at middle-earth.thehobbit.com, since it is an official “part” of the movie promotion/experience.

The future of WebRTC in gaming is being demonstrated obliquely at GENBAND’s Perspectives15 event in Orlando this week. The company has put together the Kandy WebRTC service with third-party virtual reality tools to construct a fully immersive conference room.  Participants can watch in a 2-D fashion using a traditional large screen monitor or go fully immersive by putting on an Oculus Rift headset for a 3-D experience.

Donning the headset allows the wearer to “see” everything in a virtual classroom or conference room, including other participants, presentations, and any other materials shared within the confines of the space. Instead of using a mouse, views are presented and tracked via head movement.  The experience can be somewhat disorientating, with some participants reporting discomfort due to the rapid shifts in views through the headset.

While GENBAND has built a demonstration integrating WebRTC audio and video into a virtual conference room, it would be an easy shift to move from an enterprise-based conference application supporting multiple participants to an immersive gaming environment.  In both cases, GENBAND is able to provide WebRTC audio and video into the environment through Kandy for a richer experience, with WebRTC providing APIs for rapid development and lower cost through the use of open source code and publicly available services. 




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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