Six months ago, if you told me that I’d be having weekly family gatherings on Zoom I would’ve told you to take a hike. The business-focused video chat app had no place in social circles.
But now, Zoom has become an antidote to isolation during this pandemic lockdown.
More convenient than calling every single friend or family member, people are turning to Zoom to fill the void of lost social gatherings.
When I heard that my Aunt – who couldn’t tell you the difference between iOS and Android – was using Zoom to get together with her old college friends, I knew that this trend was nothing to take lightly.
The question on most investors, future-thinkers, and generally curious peoples’ minds is: When the pandemic lockdowns fade, will Zoom hold its place in the routines of our social behaviors?
Hard to say.
However, if Zoom wants to increase their chances at becoming a consumer staple, then they will enhance their “social gathering offering” by introducing games to the app.
Online Games with Video Chat
From Crazy 8’s and Texas Hold‘em to Monopoly and Scrabble, what if all of these nontraditional social gatherings that are happening on Zoom could also include some of our favorite group games to pass the time?
I’m not referring to the “jury-rigged” versions out there. For instance, I’ve read stories of people playing Pictionary, Karaoke, Bingo, Quiplash (Jackbox Games), among others with Zoom as the video enabler. Rather, I’m talking about actual games offered natively in the Zoom app.
There are three examples I’d like to point to:
- Trickster Cards – they’ve digitized group card games such as Spades, Hearts, Euchre, and a few others (definitely could use more). Users can host their own card games and easily invite friends to play. And best of all, each player can then stream a live video feed to the whole table.
- Bunch – Playing video games with friends over distances is not new. But the addition of live video feeds is novel. Bunch has enabled this for mobile games. They call it a game party on your phone. Basically, you can video chat with your friends while you’re playing mobile games such as Flappy Bird, Minecraft, HQ Trivia, and more.
- Board Game Arena – They’ve digitized more than 176 board games to be played in groups online. The addition of a video chat would take this to the next level.
There’s no reason that Zoom can’t bite Trickster Cards or Board Game Arena and start offering in-app games to play with your group of friends.
Most might look at this and say that Zoom doesn’t belong in the digital gaming space. Well, Zoom also wasn’t supposed to be hosting virtual cocktail hours.
Zoom made it easy for anyone and everyone to do group video calls. And they can do the same for virtual group games.
Strike while the iron is hot!
Zoom has the country’s attention right now. And in order to keep it, they might need to do something above and beyond the other group video chat apps.
Houseparty is clearly more aligned to capitalize on this idea of group gaming with video chat, considering they already offer a few basic games that people can play in their group video calls.
But the opportunity is realistically anyone’s to grab (who has the right number of eyeballs).
Even if Zoom started small and figured out how to do a brand deal with just one game, maybe Monopoly. It would be interesting to see how people responded.
Overall, many are betting that social distancing practices will stay in place to some degree for a long time following this pandemic. That means that it might be another year before you can get together with your friends for that poker tournament.
Therefore, there’s an opportunity to provide digital versions of the group games we all know and love with a video chat component so that there’s at least some semblance of face-to-face interaction.
Zoom (and Houseparty) have the distribution to make this happen.