Bunch created a way for gamers to party up with friends in mobile games, and it’s taking off during our time of isolation.
Playing mobile games is one of the pastimes that we can still do during the pandemic, and it’s a lot more fun if you can play with someone else, even if they’re far away. That’s what Bunch’s app was designed to do, said Bunch CEO Selcuk Atli in an interview with GamesBeat.
The Bunch app creates a “frictionless experience” to party up with friends on video chat and jump together into the same game session. Bunch’s long term vision is to help people spend more face to face time together, playing their favorite games anywhere.
“The best games are serving as social networks,” Atli said.
Atli and his cofounders Jason Liang and Jordan Howlett wanted to re-create the fun they had playing games in-person at LAN parties, where a bunch of friends would congregate together. But that’s no longer possible, and online-only mobile solutions like Bunch may be the answer. Bunch can “deep link” friends, meaning it can find them on any social application and bring them together. That way, users can simply share links with each other. The friends follow the link with the same party ID and come together. Bunch can install the game if one of the friends doesn’t have it, and once installed, all friends can be in the same match.
On March 17, Bunch wasn’t on the list of any top app category or country ranking. But now it has broken into the top 20 social apps in 17 countries, top 100 social apps in 35 countries, and top 100 free apps in the entire app store in 10 countries on the Apple App Store.
People collectively now open Bunch millions of times a month; and they spend over 1.5 million minutes a day talking to friends on the app.
“We were in the thousands before this, and now we’re in the millions” of users, Atli said.
He said that the total number of game sessions and hangouts grew by 50 times over the last few weeks. The average number of daily game sessions per user grew by 75%. And the total time spent in hangouts grew 25% day over day.
Meanwhile, the number of times people hang out with friends every day grew by 30% in a two-week period.
Bunch also found that, while video chatting with friends on Bunch, people spend 80% of their time playing games.
And the demographics are changing as more people discover Bunch. While the Bunch user base was slightly more male a few weeks ago, now it’s 62% female. Previously, almost the entire user base on Bunch was in the U.S. and Canada; now 75% of the audience is international.
Atli gets a lot of satisfaction out of the fact that people come together through Bunch to play the games that they love, even when they are physically apart. It helps people enjoy group video chat while playing multiplayer games with friends.
With offices in New York and Toronto, Bunch has funding from Tencent, Supercell, Riot Games, Miniclip, London Venture Partners, Founders Fund, and others.
Bunch comes with a number of built-in games that include Pool, Mars Dash (a fun racing game), Draw Party, Trivia, and a multiplayer version of Flappy Bird. It also supports a number of games like Roblox, Brawl Stars, and Minecraft. Bunch also lets people play more light-hearted games like Uno, Golf Battle, Spaceteam, Fun Run, and Scrabble.
Atli said that Bunch is best integrated with games like Spaceteam, Brawl Stars, and Armajet. When players open the game with friends via Bunch, they not only can talk to each other but are automatically placed into the same game session.
Additionally, users can play third-party games that are lightly supported on Bunch like PUBG Mobile, Minecraft, and UNO. With these games, players can still party up on video chat through Bunch and open those games together while still talking to each other. However, with these titles, the users will have to manually party up to play together when they are inside the game.
When users are playing third-party games on Bunch — while Bunch is running in the background — they are still able to video chat with each other using a feature called the Bunch Overlay. This feature is currently available to all Android users. However iOS users can only voice chat while they are inside the game.