Houseparty's video chat may have been a popular choice in the early days of the pandemic, but that hasn't won it much favor with its owner Epic Games. Houseparty is shutting down its app sometime in October. Fortnite's Houseparty integration will vanish around the same time, the developers said. The app has already disappeared from stores.
The team explained the move as a matter of focus. Houseparty is crafting "meaningful and authentic" new socialization features that would be useful at a metaverse level across Epic Games titles, according to the creators. The company didn't provide any clues as to what would come next.
It's a slightly odd decision. Epic bought Houseparty in 2019, and the app bloomed in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to socialize online. There were over 17 million downloads in March 2020 alone, Sensor Tower said. The Fortnite tie-in also gave the younger crowd a way to hang out in a favorite game. While the pandemic is (hopefully) winding down, Epic is effectively cutting off Houseparty near its peak.
That shift toward the metaverse may be difficult to ignore, however. Epic has increasingly turned Fortnite into a social space between pop star concerts, virtual museums and non-competitive modes like Party Royale. The more work Epic can devote to that space, the greater its chances of attracting (and keeping) users who aren't always ready fight intense last-one-standing battles.