Online gaming has advanced rapidly in the last few years. With more and more people connecting to the Internet, and thanks to in-game chat, gamers can easily find other players looking for friendship or competition.
The problem with so many options out there is knowing which games have built-in chat features? And what if your game doesn't offer this support?
This guide will explore what in-game chat is, why it’s important, and what games need in-game communication. We’ll also provide strategic guidance on how to build these features into your own gaming app.
What Is In-Game Chat?
As in-game chat enables direct communication, players inside a game won’t need to leave the app to use external chat tools. Adding in-game chat is essential to improve the player experience.
There are many benefits to having in-game chat, but it’s not always necessary for every game. This guide will discuss the different factors to be considered when deciding if you need in-game chat and how to implement it into your gaming app.
Next, we'll explain why it's important for games to have an in-app chat system and what kind of games need one.
Why In-Game Chat Is Important
In-game chat is vital for multiplayer games, as the players need a way to communicate in real-time within the game. All users can use an app’s chat system simultaneously without leaving the game to use external tools like Discord or Slack.
In Clash Royale, for example, there are two options for chatting with other players. You could either connect through Facebook Messenger (which requires both people to be on their phones or have their desktop browser tabs open) or use the in-game chat without interrupting their gameplay.
What Kinds of Games Need In-Game Chat?
Games that need in-game chat include both co-op and competitive multiplayer games. MMO games, in particular, cannot be played without in-game chat.
Games with single-player mode may not require in-game chat but may still benefit from the social aspect of chatting with other gamers playing at different times or on separate devices.
Games With In-game Chat
Some games use in-game chat technology enabling players to talk with each other within the game while playing. Such games include the following:
- Player Unknown’s Battleground (which uses proximity chats)
- Call of Duty (with text and voice chats using automatic moderation)
- House Party (using spontaneous group hangouts for socializing)
These games are the most successful with an in-game chat and messaging system used seamlessly during gameplay, rather than requiring players to use an external chat platform where there is no guarantee that all players are using the same chat platform.
Games That Don’t Need In-game Chat
Some single-player role-playing games or adventure-style games don’t need in-game chat because they are meant to be played alone.
These types of gameplay are not dependent on other player's input. As such, these games can function with an external messaging system for players who want it, without affecting the player experience.
Sometimes, games may have social channels intentionally separated from actual gameplay. For example, players could use Discord voice channels within games such as:
- Fortnite Battle Royal
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
In these cases, however, it's important to note that this type of usage may impact the player experience.
Why You can’t Use Slack or Discord Instead of In-game Chat?
In many cases, in-game chat provides a better player experience than using Discord or Slack.
This is because players can stay within the game for a more immersive experience while chatting with other gamers. Having in-game chat also helps players improve their games by reducing distractions caused by other chat apps when playing in online multiplayer modes.
Relying on an external chat app for your game has some drawbacks. One of the main drawbacks of a shooting MMO game is that players cannot see what is happening in the game while chatting on an external app. This distraction can lead to their characters getting killed in game, which may be frustrating for some people who want a more immersive experience when playing games online with others.
Other drawbacks include being unable to own the players’ conversation about the game since they have to leave the game to chat on another platform. This weakens the game’s brand. If players have positive chat experiences in Discord, they will associate those experiences with Discord, not the game itself. However, any negative experiences while chatting in Discord may hurt your game and brand.
In summary, there is little upside and a lot of downside in using an external chat platform.
Build Your In-Game Chat in Five Steps
There are many things to consider, both strategically and technically, for building in-game chat. We’ll cover the process step by step, starting with strategy.
Step 1: Align benefits of in-game chat with overall growth strategy
Starting with asking “why” you want to build in-game chat, align the benefits of doing so with your overall growth and engagement strategy. Growing a game and keeping players engaged involves community building by giving them opportunities to socialize.
Building a community around your game keeps people playing longer, improving player retention while lowering churn, leading to increased revenue and lifetime value. To build this type of functionality into any online PC- or console-based first-person shooter-style gameplay requires some programming effort. Still, it results in one less barrier between gamers while networking within different environments.
Another key benefit of in-game chat is improved customer service and real-time satisfaction. In the event of a technical issue or bug, players using in-game chat can ask for help from customer service instantly. Support via in-game chat helps make troubleshooting much easier and quicker.
Finally, in-game chat also speeds up game development by making it easier for players to submit feedback to game developers. Developers would then have immediate access to live feedback, helping them understand which aspects of the game are most valuable or interesting to the players and provide opportunities to improve the game.
Step 2: Choose between text, voice, and video chat
While your game’s finished product can have all three, your developers will need to know which to prioritize.
Although text is necessary for the game’s social space and a Slack-like community for team chats, in-game guilds, lobby chats, and messaging with friends, your game may need voice or video as an engagement multiplier.
When players need to use both hands on their controls, both voice and video boost gaming experience by removing the need to set aside the controls to type out a text.
Since video chat is the most expressive, it’s suitable for introducing players to gameplay mechanics that they may not have seen before. For competitive MMO games, however, VoIP may be a necessity for an immersive experience.
However, keep in mind that voice and video chats are more challenging to moderate than text chats, and may consequently invite toxicity and abuse.
Step 3: Establish a moderation plan to prevent toxicity
Moderating in-game chat helps prevent toxicity. Failing to do so will allow toxicity and abuse to pervade the community you’ve worked so hard to build and thus, harm your game and brand.
A few moderation strategies can include the following:
- Muting players who use offensive language
- Permanently banning repeat offenders
- Setting up profanity filters in text chats
- Using automated moderation tools
Selecting the type of in-game chat also determines your moderation strategy. Not surprisingly, text is safer than VoIP because it’s more anonymous, providing somewhat more protection from vitriol, abuse, and bullying. Plus, text chats are much easier to moderate than voice chats by using filters and automation tools.
Although manual moderation, such as using one’s discretion to mute or ban users, may allow you more control over in-game chat, the fast-paced gaming environment could make this difficult or even impossible. In such cases, you may opt to give players more control over their chat environment. Players should be able to mute or block other players in both text and voice chats within the gaming environment (unlike in Slack, where they can’t block others in the same channel).
Rather than using manual moderation, you may find it easier to integrate moderation tools to limit toxicity, spam, and abuse, some of which are automated with filtering capabilities. For example, CometChat’s AI-powered chat moderation mitigates and prevents toxic chat damaging your gaming community by using profanity filters and sentiment analyses.
Step 4: Map out the technology, features, and user interface
Once you have the growth strategy, type of chat, and a plan to moderate in-game chat, you can start getting into the features and technology.
First, there are a couple of ways you can construct player chat for your game. There are two main pathways: SMS or Web-based IM.
SMS vs. IM
Although SMS, using the RESTful API is available whether or not you have WiFi, data coverage, or even a smartphone, it is better suited for business-critical forms of engagement such as ridesharing or food delivery. However, SMS uses the native phone messaging app instead of the company or game app.
For in-game chat, IM tends to have an advantage because unlike SMS socket communication enables in-app messaging between gamers. Plus, it makes extra features, such as group chats and push notifications, possible.
High uptime and broad device support
Other important requirements for your chat involves uptime, which should be as close to 100 percent as possible. Unless you have the necessary server infrastructure to maintain such uptime, you may choose a reliable cloud service to support your in-game chat capabilities.
Check out this article on thedifference between Cloud & On-premise infrastructurefor your chat.
Your chat should also be able to support a variety of device types and a wide range of locations to maximize the reach of your game and player engagement. To support this, your chat platform needs to be able to identify certain traits of your chat users, such as location and device type.
Step 5: Choose a development platform
Using an existing service or building from scratch is one of the many decisions you need to make.
With all these technical requirements to make in-game chat work for you, building it yourself from scratch may seem like a daunting task.
Fortunately, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
You can choose a development platform for your app, then integrate an in-game chat via ready Chat APIs or SDKs from CometChat. Our robust and highly developer-friendly chat ecosystem supports several commonly-used platforms for chat inside any game or app.
Explore Your In-Game Chat Options
Our latest blog posts and knowledge base tutorials cover many strategies for integrating a customized chat experience into your game or app.
Get in touch with us to learn more on how you can integrate chat into your game with automated moderation tools, GDPR compliance, and technical support so you can focus on building your game community.
About the Author
Nabeel Keblawi, a deaf entrepreneur, runs a Content Marketing and SEO agency that helps B2B SaaS companies grow organically in their industries around the world. His previous work experience involved software development, renewable energy, and cloud computing. In his personal life, Nabeel loves to go hiking with his family, and dust off his skis to hit the slopes given the chance. He is also an avid reader of fictional history.