ChatGame will use funding to ramp up platform development
China-based facial beautification for video calls platform ChatGame has raised US$14 million from an undisclosed group of angel investors.
The newly-raised capital will be channeled towards ramping up app features including a group chat function, which allows six users to hold a video call at the same time, with the capacity for up to 500 people to spectate and message the group.
The app allows users to enhance their video calls by changing their complexion, reducing glare, fixing oily looking skin, and thinning out their faces. Other funky features include the ability to transform oneself into a monkey and even roam about in space backgrounds using ChatGame avatars. It also has a “burn after reading” function, where users set a video message to disappear after it has been read.
ChatGame was founded in 2014 by two Founders Willa Shaw (CEO) and Hula Zhang (Product Manager), and three Co-founders Bruce Yu, Danny Zhu and Ken Zhu.
In an email interview with e27, the ChatGame team explains the impetus for creating the app came from the desire to reclaim the beauty of face-to-face interaction – and video calling was the closet one can get over a distance.
Despite the availability of such technology, many people still shied away. Hence, the team conducted focus groups and surveys to find the root cause of their reluctance.
Technology already available, but users are not biting
“We conducted focus groups and surveyed thousands of respondents of all age groups, including teens, young adults, parents, and grandparents. Based on our analysis and research, the majority of females responded that they didn’t like the way they look on video calls,” the team says.
The solution: “We incorporate real-time video effect features to help users to always look flawless on video calls, to not feel the hesitation or stress that kept them from wanting to connect with someone.”
Beyond vanity enhancements, the team also sought to attract users by marketing it as a stable video call platform – an issue they said is putting people off this technology.
“Both males and females, felt that video calling was a hassle due to lag and the need to schedule video calls in advance. The majority of respondents also felt video calls consumed a lot of data on their mobile devices.”
The team claims that ChatGame remains stable on most connections – 3G, 4G and WiFi – and even consumes 60 per cent less data than conventional video chatting apps such as Skype
Additional users who join in group video chats as a spectator or a participant will not affect the quality of the call.
Citing the widespread popularity of video and photo enhancement apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, the ChatGame team believes their team will be a hit.
ChatGame isn’t the only Chinese developer in the video enhancement market. Meitu, which has over a billion worldwide, offers a suite of video and photo editings apps MeituPic, BeautyCam and Meipai.
But the team at ChatGame isn’t daunted by that as they do not seem themselves as competitors in the same space. For one, all of the facial beautification on ChatGame are done in real time in video calls – a feature missing Meitu’s products.
ChatGame claims the app has currently over 2.5 million registered users, with a Month-on-Month (MoM) growth of 12 per cent.
A billiard pool game feature is in the works – users will be able to play with their friends or randomly match up with other ChatGame users all through video chat.
Now making people happy by helping them look pretty and all dolled up is heartwarming, but how will that turn a profit for ChatGame?
In the vain of innumerable chat or game apps, the team is considering monetisation through stickers, character avatars, and in-game micro-transanctions. They are also aiming to create a “competitive an original business model”, but did not provide further details.
The time to fret about cash-flow will come. But right now, the team is focussed on optimising the platform through constant users’ input.
“We strongly believe in making sure we are giving users a great experience and we are constantly updating and listening to users feedback. We don’t try to rush out releases or heavily push promotions during our first launch like many other companies. We are very careful in our research and always test before deciding to make a big push.”
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