Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2013 - 06:46 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: razer, Comms, Teamspeak, Ventrillo
The Steam overlay makes text communication easy between any combination of friends in game and out. Despite the popularity, just about every team has a voice over IP (VoIP) solution to coordinate within a match. Talking is simply superior to typing while simultaneously attempting to not get yourself killed, crashed, or otherwise not-winning. Teamspeak and Ventrillo are the two most popular solutions for clan voice communication; while both are free applications for clients, some uses require server license fees over and above the actual server cost itself.
Razer Comms is a free service, currently in beta, for text and audio chat. Using the overlay metaphor, the application tries to be very unobtrusive to the game it rests upon. The service apparently uses good-quality codecs, according to the little hear-say I overheard the last couple of days. They also advertise that the service, since it is not owned by the clans which use it, will hide each user's IP address. While there is very little you can do to someone by knowing their IP address, and most of that could be circumvented by powercycling your modem, it does have some limited advantages.
In terms of a business model, unless the service develops some way of gaining revenue, the only way I can rationalize Razer funding this project is boosting their brand power. Razer already has some level of infrastructure from their Synapse projects and it is possible that the company is willing to eat the loss with the expectation of increased hardware sales. If this service will continue to be both free and ad-free, I cannot see any other reason for Razer to bother besides: eat the loss, make gamers happy, and wait for them to want a new mouse or tablet.
I can also see a slim chance, a very very slim chance, that Razer hopes to contiuously expand this service into a full gaming platform as Valve did with Steam. A fun thought, but nothing I would actually expect at this point.
Razer Comms is currently only available for English Windows users, although other languages will arrive soon.