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Online gaming is increasingly becoming a team activity. But communicating in large groups over the internet has never been easy.
Voxli is one of the companies trying to fix that. The company announced an open beta today for its browser-based voice-chatting system for gamers.
Skype and Google Talk may work fine for the general population. But gamers are particular. They often meet in groups of 20 or more people, and they need group chat rooms that they can return to often for regularly scheduled game sessions. Ventrilo, Mumble and TeamSpeak all offer voice chat clients for hardcore gamers. And Vivox is integrating its voice-chat system into games.
But Andrew Ow, co-founder of Voxli in Mountain View, Calif., said his company is trying to make the clients easier to use and easy to integrate for casual games, or games with short time frames that appeal to broader groups than just hardcore gamers. The company says as many as 200 gamers can participate in the same chat.
With Voxli, it isn’t necessary for gamers to set up their own servers. They get a small client and then can use it either outside or inside a game by pressing a single key. That style of communication is called “push to talk.” You’d use Voxli outside a game to find out where your friends are playing, for example.
The company is a Y Combinator startup that has received $15,000 so far. It has two people on staff and was founded about a year ago. The company is not raising money now. Over time, Voxli will add other features that let a user make voice communications private. It will also improve sound quality with echo cancellation technology, which helps remove background noise. The company will charge users a flat subscription fee for the service. The fee will vary depending on the number of users per room.
The company hosts the chat rooms on its own servers, which are hosted by server-outsourcing companies such as Amazon Web Services. That makes it a lot easier for the company to get to market. Voxli happens to be one of the entrants in the Who’s Got Game? startup competition at VentureBeat’s GamesBeat 09 game conference on March 24.
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