Chatroulette introduced a number of new features this week, including local channels dubbed Localroulette that allow users to connect to other participants in the same country or region. Another feature dubbed Channelroulette essentially allows users to start their own themed channels to meet up with friends and strangers alike.
Visitors of Localroulette are automatically routed to local editions of Chatroulette based on their IP address. In our tests conducted in San Francisco, we were sent to a chat channel called us-ca.chatroulette.com, but similar channels also exist for users from Germany, the UK, Russia, Brazil, Denmark and other countries. Earlier this week, users could freely chose between any of these localized channels, but users attempting to enter a channel from a different locale are now automatically rerouted to their local channel.
Another interesting, and perhaps even more important, update allows users to instantly start their own channels by simply adding a subdomain to the Chatroulette Url, e.g. Newteevee.chatroulette.com. (Please note: This link is for demonstration purposes only. We don’t control the content of this channel, which may or may not be safe for work.)
Chatroulette lists the most popular of these custom channels on its website, and the list is currently dominated by sexual-themed channels, which might not be much of a surprise for a site that once was described as “71% Boys, 15% Girls, 14% Perverts.”
In fact, the number of people exposing themselves on Chatroulette has led to a backlash against the site in recent months. Slate writer Mary-Elizabeth Williams even went so far as to declare Chatroulette dead, adding: “Cause of death: penises.”
However, the introduction of local and themed channels could represent an important turning point for Chatroulette. Not only does it allow users interested in sexual experiences to gather amongst themselves, minimizing their, well, let’s just call it “exposure” to other users.
It’s also an intriguing way for users to connect to each other on the site. Anyone can make up a link to a new room and exchange it via IM or online forums, and users meeting on Chatroulette proper can make dates to reconnect to each other in a certain channel.
Chatroulette has seen its traffic dip in recent months, but it’s still attracting a notable audience, with 1.1 million unique users frequenting the site in May, according to Compete.com.
Related content on GigaOm Pro (sub req’d): Report: The Consumer Video Chat Market, 2010–2015