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Om just passed along the news that Skype just launched a Game Developer Program, replete with their own branded Game Channel, and a dev kit so folks can create third party games that run over Skype, and make them money. This is a great idea bound to succeed– rather, it would have been, if it had been launched a few years ago. Now, they’re competing in an already crowded market.
VOIP is essential for hardcore gamers who depend on group chat for split-second teamwork in Counterstrike, World of Warcraft, and other online multiplayer games. Thing is, there are already a number of established VOIP providers in the game space, like Teamspeak, Ventrillo, and Xfire, and it’ll be difficult for Skype to rebrand itself as a game channel provider, especially for gamers who have been using services like those for years.
Then again, hardcore gamers are just a small fraction of a much larger market, and the real potential for a large audience is in casual games. If Skype’s game channel can come up with a few hits that truly leverage voice communication, they could taste success in their latest initiative.