In-game chat is a powerful tool to drive player engagement. But, when actually using chat in your game, players will bring expectations based on their everyday experiences with apps like WeChat, Slack, and Messenger.
Players expect features that live comfortably in your UI, that bring their conversations to life, and that accommodate the personal relationships they’ve formed by playing your game. If you’re serious about implementing in-game chat your players will want to use, here are the features you can’t overlook in 2020:
If you want your chat to be the star of a truly social experience, you need to facilitate personal connections between players. This is doubly true if you expect players to meet up with real-life friends in-game.
Whether you want to facilitate game nights between pals, or let friendships flourish online, friends functionality allows players to connect, chat, and play together with ease. Speaking of playing together…
2: Chat Rooms / Group Chat
This may seem obvious, but consider how few games actually provide clear, intuitive ways to speak to a specific group of fellow players.
For example, most MMOs offer broad communication options, like channels for local, party, or guild chat. Broad channels like this worked back in 2010. But, these days, players are used to being able to choose who they communicate with, hop between specifically composed channels, and to do so intuitively.
Conversations are where players will express their frustrations and elations. Of course, an emoji on its own says a lot. But, reactions let players put their emotions in context. They’re a lightweight but potent way for players to comment on one another’s messages, and for others in a channel to easily grasp the general flow and feel of the conversation.
More than anything, they give players an expansive range of expression to discuss, meme, and react to moments in your game.
4: Typing Indicators
Your game will probably have a lot going on. So, don’t make players wait around looking at silent threads. Typing indicators help bring immediacy to text-based interactions, letting players know at a glance that others are active in the conversation. They are little pieces of visual feedback, and they go a long way towards making chat feel like an organic, life-like interaction.
More to the point, typing indicators help prevent cross talk, or might just make it clear when somebody isn’t interested in waiting their turn.
5: Read Receipts
Do your players want to invite friends to a game night? Maybe they’re asking for help with a puzzle, or are sending an SOS from deep in a dungeon.
As in real life, your players will want to know that their messages were received. Like with any game mechanic, feedback in chat is crucial to maintain awareness and satisfaction. Plus, seeing that they’ve been heard might stop players from spamming your main channel.
These pair perfectly with Typing Indicators to make a truly organic in-game chat experience.
No matter who your players are, they have likely built up habits and expectations around their day-to-day chat experiences. And, for good reason: features like typing indicators, reactions, and read receipts lend feedback and a sense of immediacy to chat. In turn, players experience smooth, natural communication.
When thinking about in-game chat, this level of interaction is the basis of any good player community. You’ll want to give players feedback, expressive freedom, and the ability to fine-tune their own social experience.
Implementing features like this can be challenging, adding what feels like more development time just to get your game out the door. Compared to the core needs of your game, they can seem like luxuries. But, if your game relies on community, you need to give players chat they’ll want to use.
Luckily, when it comes to building full-featured in-game chat, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. PubNub’s Chat APIs and SDKs make it easy to get in-game chat up and running with all these features and more. Whether you’re using Unity to build your game, or you’re working directly in Swift or Android Java, we’ve got you covered.
Beyond providing the core, realtime infrastructure to send and receive messages, our SDKs offer easy-to-use endpoints to quickly implement essential chat features like:
Chat rooms (plus history)
Translation and filtering APIs
Our API is flexible, so you can roll out these features quickly. Our globally available messaging infrastructure then lets you expand as your game, and needs, evolve. Getting started is easy. And, if you have any questions, we offer support 24/7 worldwide. With PubNub, you can start building world-class, in-game chat today.