Some months ago a piece of software called Curse Voice exploded onto the scene. Promoted by professional League of Legends players, demand during closed beta was astoundingly high with those on social networks just clamoring for a chance to get their hands on codes.
At the time Curse touted Voice’s ability to track timers of dragon, baron, and your teammates ultimate timers. This was just a complementary feature, however, with the main focus being on the ability to instantly join a voice chat session with your teammates.
Needless to say, those at lower levels of skill (where tracking timers of anything is relatively rare) knew the huge advantage such knowledge provided.
It caused a wave to ripple throughout the entire League of Legends community. Riot Games never had a solid stance on third party applications outside of the fact that they were allowed as long as they didn’t track unavailable information such as timers of a buff that a player can’t see. Those who used Voice knew that the timers bettered there experience, offering them knowledge without the effort required with constantly tracking such things in your head. Some professionals on the other hand weren’t so fond of the experience. One of the biggest protesters of the situation was Cloud 9 Jungler Will “meteos” Hartman who said it was unfair that he had to learn to time them himself but others can now do so for free.
Eventually Riot Games came out and clarified that any third party software may not support any kinds of timers and to comply with the ruling Curse removed those features from Voice, much to the dismay of early adopters.
But Curse wasn’t fazed.
We spoke with CEO Hubert Thieblot about his software that now boasts over a million users.
“We’ve always kind of prided ourselves in being gamers,” Thieblot begins, “and a big part of that really helps us truly understand how certain tools and services are used. The current systems out there, Skype, Ventrilo, etc are really outdated. The use case of sharing your personal Skype ID with someone to play a quick match just doesn’t fit the way gamers want to game.
“Curse Voice addressed these concerns and was really the first voice solution to be built for gamers from the ground up. That said, we have been incredible pleased with the adoption rates we’ve seen and are actively working on supporting new games and adding new features to keep up with the demand we’ve seen.”
Despite the stereotype, you’d be surprised as to how many players are utilizing the voice chat sessions to communicate with their teammates.
“The number of people who engage in a live chat session of some kind is staggeringly high,” Thieblot admits. “We see around 90% of people trying it. At any given time we’ve got about 50% of the total install base online in each region when it’s primetime, and of that around 10% of the active users in a real time voice session.”
When Riot Games finally made the decision to make timers against their Terms of Service, Thieblot was taken aback slightly.
“We were a bit surprised that they wouldn’t be more supportive, given the current climate and the other available products out there (relatively nonexistent) but their stance is mostly an indifference to the program more than a condemnation to the program.”
It’s not the end of the world, however, Thieblot says that because of the rapid success many other studios are reaching out to see if Voice could soon support their title.
“…We believe that as more and more users expect a higher quality of experience, more and more games will seek us out and want to integrate with us. In fact, since launching we are in talks to support two additional MOBAs and a few games launching late this year and early next. Demand has actually be overwhelming.”
If anything the decision has been a blessing in disguise. “[Riot’s stance] on timers meant that we spent a little less time on development for enhanced features for League, and were able to move on to other games quicker. I do think that probably did slow down some of the adoption rate, like people who maybe only wanted the timers, but it hasn’t had a significant impact yet.”
A lack of communication wasn’t to blame for the situation, Riot simply changed its mind.
“We love Riot,” says Thieblot, “and we talk to many people from the company every day. Most of the Curse Voice discussions have included updates to them and there’s really no reason to think that that relationship would stop or slow down.” He continues, “We always want to make sure we’re helping gamers enjoy their games, if a publisher doesn’t feel that a certain service we’ve added is beneficial to the gameplay experience, or the environment for the game, we’re totally open to having those discussions and making changes.
For us, the player is always #1.
Part of putting the player first is continuing to add features to Voice in the near future. We pushed Thieblot to divulge some information as to what they could possibly be.
“There are some very good ideas floating around here, and we’re in an excellent place to make something like this happen. We have the ability to leverage a lot of data, and a lot of traffic, from our League web properties like LoLNexus and LoLPro to create really cool integrations in League that will add real value and enhance the experience of the players.”
Thieblot divulges a rough estimate saying, “I would say look for something in the next few months that would be very similar to the question you’re asking…”
At this point it’s clear that the streaming community is a large part of the League of Legends body and Curse hopes to also provide them benefits.
“We have been working hand in hand with some of the biggest streamers to have them help consult on the functionality of Curse Voice, and there has been some talk of giving them special themes, tools, and capabilities to help them enhance their streams,” Thieblot announces. “We have always valued the streaming community, and in fact we believe that’s where some of the best ideas come from for a product like Curse Voice, so it’s not something we are going to overlook. “
Unfortunately it might be some time before we see anything like that he admits, “I think as it stands now there probably wouldn’t be anything available for general consumption in 2014.”
However, current users will have something to look forward to Thieblot says, “In the very near future we’re going to be adding buddy list support, and allowing a user to see when his/her friends are playing a certain game. We also want to leverage our core and use some of the data and analytics we have from that to create leaderboards, and fun stats to share with your friends.”
For the next weeks, months, and years Curse knows what it needs to do to grow Voice into one of the most formidable pieces of software for the PC gamer.
“Aside from that we look to aggressively expand into new titles, two we’ll be announcing at E3, [World of Warcraft and Diablo] and two more we’ll be announcing in July, with their own cool tools and features.
Our goal is to get 15M-20M gamers using this product in 2015, we have a clear path to do that, an incredible product, and some really fantastic partners.”