Epic Games is doubling down on teens by acquiring Houseparty

Epic’s Fortnite is at the heart of its suit against Apple.
Epic’s Fortnite is at the heart of its suit against Apple.
Image: Epic Games
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One of the few sizable independent social media platforms is being sold.

Epic Games, maker of the cultural phenomenon/video game Fortnite, is acquiring live-video chat app Houseparty, the companies said today (June 12).

In March, Houseparty, which began life as the live-video streaming app Meerkat, announced the promotion of co-founder and chief operating officer Sima Sistani to CEO. It had also said it was shifting its strategy slightly, in an effort to start generating revenue. The company announced it was bringing paid gaming content to Houseparty, starting with Heads Up, the popular party game.

Houseparty said in September 2017 that it had 20 million users, many still in high school and university, with the average user spending 51 minutes per day. Fortnite, on the other hand, has grown into a 250 million-user game played by people across the world on just about every device imaginable.

It’s not clear whether Houseparty’s nascent gaming strategy had been paying off before the acquisition, but the move seems like a good match for Epic’s plans. The company has looked for ways to directly engage with fans, even sidestepping Android’s Google Play Store (requesting users download the game from its website instead) to save on developer fees. Livestreams of Fortnite matches are extremely popular on Amazon’s Twitch platform. With Houseparty, Epic could look to bring users further into its universe by making it simple to stream games with friends, and the world.

For now, Epic plans to keep Houseparty accounts separate from its own.