Ain’t no party like a self-isolation Houseparty

3 April 2020

Alexandra Tsoi

Party at my everyone’s place!

It’s not yet been a month of official country-wide self-quarantine, but one app has managed to rise up above the rest. That app is Houseparty. (If you don’t know what it is, then maybe you’re quarantining too hard.) 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there are other ‘conferencing’ apps out there. We’ve got Google Hangouts. We’ve got Zoom (With has very much been enjoying the virtual backgrounds). We’ve got Slack. However, none of these offer the illusion of genuine intimacy and connection the way Houseparty does. 

If you don’t already know, the app utilises the user’s contacts, allowing for immediate connection with online friends. A maximum of eight people can enter a “room” at once, and if a “door” is left open, friends of friends can “walk in” and join in. 

On top of the house-party-esque vibe, Houseparty also allows users to play games in-app. After all, what’s a house party without a game of trivia or word association? (… a party that doesn’t happen in self-isolation, probably.) 

During a time in which we can’t physically see each other, this app has managed to make the most frictionless online experience we can have with friends. Right now, it’s the closest thing we have to feeling the real thing.

What could go wrong?

The only issue here is that maybe Houseparty got too big too fast. Recent events suggest that maybe someone has it out for them. 

The end of March saw messages being circulated saying, “Delete Houseparty! I’ve been hacked!” 

Very quickly, the story took off online resulting in many people deleting the app. Articles were even being published on how to delete it. It was such a big story that Houseparty themselves released a statement saying they’ve fallen victim to a “paid smear campaign”. 

The app’s owner, Epic Games, is now offering a $1m (£803,000) bounty for any evidence that a “malicious actor” is behind the claims.

So who would do such a thing? Could it have been one annoying little brat with a knack for hacking? Or could it have been a smaller company possibly acting with the little green envy monster on its back? Who’s to say? Who’s to say WHY someone would even do such a thing?

Yeah, why WOULD someone do such a thing?

Well, maybe someone saw them as serious competition ready to eat into their market share.

Right now, Houseparty makes money through its in-app games. However, earlier this month, the app announced that its paid-for gaming add-ons – which are its main source of revenue according to a report by the Financial Times – would be free for users for the foreseeable future. So how will they make money now? Advertising? Partnerships? Advertising disguised as partnerships? 

In the past, they’ve had a partnership with Heads Up, the game created by the Ellen DeGeneres show. Last year, the partnership meant that Houseparty users could play the game in-app while Ellen DeGeneres herself promoted the app on her show.

What can With see Houseparty doing?

So what about this then? The great minds at With propose the idea for Houseparty to partner with the likes of JustEat or UberEats or whateverEats you like. Imagine being able to get the same food delivered to everyone’s individual homes so that you can almost get the illusion of a dinner party. Houseparty could offer discounts to its users whilst promoting the use of their food delivery partner. 

That doesn’t take your fancy? Okay, how about this… Houseparty spin-off: BoardRoom. Although we can’t quite see Zoom making the jump from corporate to casual (who really wants to ask their mates for a Zoom link when you’ve just spent all day on Zoom for work?), we can see Houseparty making the jump from casual to corporate. 

The foundation is already there; everyone uses it. So what’s stopping them from taking over the professional space? Remember that food delivery partnership idea? Imagine being able to send (discounted) coffees and pastries to your clients for the call you have scheduled for next week. The possibilities are huge! 

Houseparty could even create a more watered-down version that’s more accessible for Gran! Call it TeaParty if you want. The app could be a space for families to catch up in the morning, a space for work meetings to happen fluidly throughout the day, and a virtual hang out for a bit of fun with your friends in the evening. Houseparty could seamlessly weave itself into the fabric of our everyday routines. And it could possibly even retain its hold on us after the pandemic has blown over. 

Being able to dominate the professional space as well as the personal space would make Houseparty a completely holistic platform. There are so many ways this app could go, and so I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out. Afterall, we’ve got nothing if not more time on our hands right now.