Go inside Echobit.
Celebrate the biggest launch of the year with a whole new way to connect and play!
This weekend, we will be hosting a 2-Day Diablo II Marathon to celebrate the long-awaited Diablo III launch and to show off their completely revamped party system! All Diablo fans can join in celebrating the biggest game launch of the year. The event runs from 00:00 UTC on Saturday, May 12th until 23:59 UTC on Sunday, May 13th. It’s going to be one helluva good time.
Gamers will be racking up as many hours as possible over two hellacious days, playing the bedeviling classic without the frustrating experience typically associated with setting up multiplayer. The revamped party system makes it as easy as 1-2-3!
1) join matchmaker
2) accept match
3) launch game
It’s a better, faster and smarter way to play. Recruit your friends or jump in with new ones for maximum marathon game time on Evolve, which includes instant matchmaking, VPN, chat, VoIP, and game launching. More game, less lame.
Plus, claiming bragging rights has never been easier with detailed playtime tracking, and direct screenshot and video sharing to Evolve, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Newly designed social network and enhanced toolset presents a cohesive gaming experience across fragmented landscape. Multi-game matchmaking is an industry first.
Today, Echobit, LLC (http://www.echobit.com) announces the release of its next generation social network and toolset for gamers, called Evolve (http://www.evolvehq.com). After an exciting 8 months in closed beta (and adding 8,000 members along the way), the three-person startup has quietly built a platform that maximizes the reach and influence of gamers’ and the games they play within the rapidly expanding, increasingly disconnected video game universe.
FRAGMENTATION = FAIL
The video game industry is multiplatformed and wildly incongruent. PCs and consoles have been joined by mobile devices, social networks and tablets to amass a global audience of over 1.2 billion gamers—up from 250 million just a few years ago—an audience with extremely limited ability to consolidate their various exploits into one discrete gaming context. “Today’s gamers want to remain whole and in control of their gaming lives across any game, publisher or platform,” states Adam Sellke, Co-founder and CEO of Echobit. “Publishers and hardware manufacturers like Activision/Blizzard, EA, Ubisoft, Valve, Zynga, Apple, Microsoft, Sony and others are all protecting their respective turfs on Battle.net, Call of Duty Elite, Origin, uPlay, Steam, GameCenter, Xbox Live, Play Station Network and the like. That’s nuts. These silos and walled gardens unnecessarily constrain gamers’ freedom, so we created Evolve.”
L’EGGO YOUR EGO
Evolve provides gamers an elegant view of their gaming world from a single profile. From it, players are treated to stats, rankings and charts of the games they and their friends are enjoying. Evolve not only gives players a place to roost, but also plenty of ways to crow. “A big part of gaming is bragging,” contends Sellke. “Evolve lets you really show ‘em who’s boss.” The platform supports the ability to import and aggregate various gaming achievements onto a profile. Also, Evolve members are equipped with “live” badges for touting their prowess with up-to-the-minute data on sites and forums. Evolve has recently added in-game screen and video capture to help gamers “prove once and for all that their kung fu is the best,” says Sellke.
QUIT PLAYING WITH YOURSELF
There are a lot of social tools and game tracking/achievement aggregators out there, but no other platform directly facilitates game coordination and connectivity like Evolve. “Everything we do is aimed at maximizing the gaming experience for gamers,” says Sellke. “A big part of that is bringing gamers together and reducing the time it takes to actually get playing.” Multi-protocol IM, group chat and in-party VoIP allow gamers to connect, gab and kvetch to each other, virtually anywhere, in real-time. Friendships can be inherited from Facebook. Others are able to be recruited via invitation links that bring players together as friends or into groups and parties. Joining a party establishes a VPN connection in one-click for LAN play and built-in VoIP. One other feature, an industry first, is the party finder—a universal matchmaking system that allows gamers to poll the network for multiple games of interest at the same time. As soon as the system finds others who share the same pursuits, all those concerned are offered a match and, upon acceptance, are instantly placed into a party.
Fragmentation and platform proliferation threaten gamers’ ability to maintain a singular reference point to their gaming activities and limits their social value. Evolve, through its game-agnostic connectivity tools and common player profile is establishing a free, open and universal platform in this space, spanning the void and making it the inevitable solution.
The best days for PC gaming lie ahead. Despite more than a decade of strong growth in console sales and a myriad of emerging threats ranging from smartphones to tablets the rumors of PC gaming’s impending demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, an NPD Group report from last year concluded that “the PC is still the most-used system for online gaming, with 85 percent of online gamers reporting using a PC for online gaming activities.” And industry heavyweights seem to agree. Frank Gibeau, president of EA Games, indicated EA’s support for the PC in March of this year, saying “from our perspective, [the PC is] an extremely healthy platform… It’s totally conceivable it will become our biggest platform.”
PC GAMING MUST CHANGE
So PC gaming is doing just fine. End of story, right? Wrong. Dead wrong.
PC gaming has a big problem. It’s not the hardware. It’s not piracy. It’s not the games. It’s how PC gamers are forced to play. The environment is far too fragmented and siloed. As a result, the PC gaming experience is isolated, dissociative, and falls short for a generation of gamers raised on Facebook and Twitter. These social barriers are the biggest obstacle to the survival of the PC as a gaming platform.
Evolve intends to break these barriers down with a website and desktop app meant to help PC gamers connect, coordinate, and play. Still in closed beta, Evolve has grown to 3,000 members in 60 countries. Collectively, they’ve tracked over three million minutes of game time and have banded together in more than 1,500 groups and parties.
A NEW SOCIAL EXPERIENCE
As a website, Evolve functions as a traditional social network with features that include walls, status updates, a news feed, and integration with Facebook and Twitter. Gamers can express their opinions using the standard ‘like’ button—or, if they’re just not feeling the love, ‘meh’ and ‘hate’ buttons. The site is rounded out by comprehensive stats display, a games library, forums, and a groups system that allows players to build communities around their favorite games.
As a desktop app, Evolve makes its platform available where gamers spend most of their time: in-game. A website just isn’t enough. Gamers need a platform that isn’t limited to their browser. And the desktop app does just that, by offering up the full Evolve web experience through its high-performance in-game overlay. Beyond the features available on the website, the app provides additional tools including a gamer-oriented web browser, multi-protocol chat client, and playtime tracking. Rounding out the app is its party system. One part chat room, one part VPN client, the party system gives gamers a way to bypass clunky server browsers and quickly jump in game with their friends.
Although the desktop app is currently only available for Windows Vista and 7 with support for 400 games, the Evolve team plans on making it available for other systems and extending support to encompass virtually all PC games.
Expanded system and game support isn’t the biggest thing that’s in store for the platform, either. We’re currently hard at work on our killer feature: universal matchmaking. Multiplayer gaming has continued to explode, but gamers are still stuck finding matches one game at a time and only while that game is actively running. The prospect for quickly finding a pick up match across all these games has been nearly impossible. Until now.
Evolve’s plans may be bold, but we’re ready for the fight. If PC gaming is to thrive, it needs an open platform with a new direction. It needs Evolve.
Ok. It doesn’t seem to make too much sense at this juncture to rehash Q2 further or ruminate on Q3 for that matter as both are already pretty well behind us.
What I do want to share, however, is that our Q3 launch of our Alpha did, in fact, take place and that our efforts to attract interest from Angels (besides our “friends, family, and advisor” round) has taken us to Silicon Valley.
We’ll post on more recent developments separately.
The last ~90 days have been filled with breakthroughs on many levels.
The creativity and hard work that has gone into our journey during this time has been inspiring and fruitful.
Three things stand out as our biggest endeavors over the last few months:
- (The search for) Angels
So on the first topic of advisors, it is my pleasure to announce that we’ve recently completed the assembly of an international board of advisors consisting of top-tier consumer tech and game industry experts and luminaries.
- Wim Stocks – Former President/COO, Elephant Entertainment; Executive VP, Atari; Executive VP, GT Interactive
- Robert Stephens – Founder, The Geek Squad; and recently named CTO, Best Buy
- Maxime Julien – Former COO, Electronic Arts; VP Operations, Ubisoft
- Jim Rossignol – Author, This Gaming Life; founding blogger, Rock, Paper, Shotgun; writer for PC Gamer, Wired, and Edge
- Jenova Chen – Award-winning game company Co-Founder/Creative Director
On behalf of Echobit, I’d like to welcome Wim, Robert, Maxime, Jim, and Jenova to the team. Your experience and talents will bring many valuable perspectives on the gaming landscape in the weeks and months and years ahead. We are thrilled to have you working with us to make Evolve the best online gaming platform in the world.
Update 9/27: due to other obligations, Maxime is no longer able to support us as an advisor. We thank him for his willingness to help us on our journey thus far, and wish him well in his exciting new endeavors. Bonne chance, Maxime!
Update 5/29/12: thanks to to Wim and Robert for their contributions over the past two years. Both are moving on and turning their focus to recent, exciting new developments in their primary careers. Thanks again, gentlemen. We’re grateful for your contributions to our progress thus far.