Move over, Xfire. Make way, Steam. There’s a new instant messenger designed just for gamers. After more than 2 years in beta, gaming social networking service Raptr has stepped onto the scene. This service allows you to see what games your friends are playing, and contact them from within the game – even if you’re playing something else, or nothing at all. While this may sound exactly like what longtime gaming instant messenger service Xfire has to offer, hold onto your controller.
For a long time, the main drawback of Xfire was the fact that your buddies needed to be on Xfire for you to chat across different games. Between not wanting to join another instant messaging service and Xfire’s incompatibility with some computer combinations, friends fell through the cracks. This issue was later addressed, and Xfire now also allows you to chat with friends on Windows Live and AIM. PC platform Steam also offers a community chat function, but this was only for communication across games on the Steam network.
Raptr goes above and beyond its two greatest competitors by allowing gamers several ways to contact their friends. Raptr not only supports integration for the “big 3” of instant messengers (AIM, Yahoo! and MSN/Windows Live), they also support Facebook, Twitter, Google Talk and ICQ. Last but not least, Raptr integrates with Xfire and Steam – poising them to wipe out their fiercest competition. And iPhone users? Yeah, there’s an app for that.
Unlike Xfire and Steam, Raptr also works across several gaming platforms. Not only is it compatible with PC, the client also works for Mac (no delay here, folks), Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360’s Xbox Live. All of this is achieved whether your friends are logged in to Raptr or not. If your buddy loads up a flash game in their browser, you’re going to know about it – and be able to pester her while she plays. In addition to all the ways to connect outside the service, Raptr offers forums on their site and a “comprehensive gaming profile” to track your trophies and achievements. Bragging rights, anyone?
With the wide range of ways to keep in touch with your fellow fraggers, it’s easy to see why Raptr is touting itself as “The Ultimate Gaming App.” But how much is too much? Of the crop of articles written about the service’s official launch this week, several comments left by readers suggested that Raptr may not be something the gaming community is interested in. Twitter users report that it’s annoying having Raptr chats overloading their streams of incoming tweets. Many gamers have also voiced annoyance at Raptr making games temporarily lock up – which can be a life-or-death situation, depending on the game you’re playing. Last but not least, do you want to be bothered by everyone and their mom while you’re trying to get your game on?
Raptr may be the way to go if you spend all your time gaming and have lost contact with your social network. It may also be a way to track down your favorite gamer when you know they won’t be logged in anywhere but their favorite game. Time will tell if Raptr becomes the gaming world’s communication platform of choice.
Kat Bailey. “Gaming Social Network Raptr Concludes Beta, Launches Version 1.0.” 1UP.
Beau Hindman. “Massively Talks With Raptr’s Dennis Fong.” Massively.
Jason Kincaid. “Raptr Leaves Beta, Makes It Easier To See Which Games Your Friends Are Playing.” TechCrunch.