Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Razer is launching a Pokémon GO chat app to talk with other nearby players
Gaming hardware company Razer is launching a chat app for Pokémon Go. A web version of RazerGo, as the service is called, will go online today at 10PM ET. iOS and Android apps will follow around July 25th, depending on approval from both stores. Like Pokémon Go itself, RazerGo is location-aware — users can find and talk to other players within a radius of 3, 60, or 600 miles, although it’s probably going to be most useful at close range. Likewise, they’ll be able to either join public chat, talk only to members of the same team, or privately talk to each other. Razer is also planning a feature that will let users drop "Beacons" to open a chat room that’s only available near them.
Pokémon Go is a social game that notably lacks basically any communication tools, so a chat app is a natural add-on — and Razer isn’t the first to try it. An app called GoChat became hugely popular last week, seeing nearly a million users. But its creator, an indie developer named Jonathan Zarra, has had problems making enough (or any) money to keep the service running. Razer, which already has its own chat software, is making a comparatively less risky investment.
While this bodes well for RazerGo, the tool isn’t necessarily for everyone. Some multiplayer games, like Hearthstone and Splatoon, have dropped chat systems because they often end up full of harassment, trash-talking, and useless noise. One of Pokémon Go’s selling points so far has been its friendliness, but there’s no guarantee that will extend into a system that’s known for engendering hostility.
If you happen to be in San Francisco, Razer is also hosting what it calls "pokécrawls" near its brick-and-mortar store tonight, starting at 6PM PT. The exact locations will be announced on its social media channels, and the company will be dropping pokémon-attracting lures along the way — so even if you don’t particularly care about RazerGo, it’s a chance to build your Pokémon Go bestiary.