RTC Developer Spotlight — Bunch Live
If you enjoy playing mobile games with friends, like HQ Trivia and Roblox, you should definitely check out Bunch — a new app that lets you play mobile video games both live and in-person, even when physically apart. Read on to see how Bunch developers use Agora’s AMG SDK to deliver video and voice seamlessly.
Bunch was co-founded by Selcuk Atlı, Jason Liang and Jordan Howlett — with offices in San Francisco and Toronto. Selcuk and team incubated this company out of a startup studio called 500 LABS. Selcuk Atli, CEO of Bunch, is a serial entrepreneur who got an early start at age 12 by founding and running a popular online gaming magazine in Turkey. Jason Liang, co-founder, is a mobile developer who has worked for Google and Pivotal Labs. Jordan Howlett, co-founder, is a full-stack developer and he has worked for several startups, including MOX and Muse. Selcuk, Jordan and Jason were kind enough to give us the backstory of Bunch.
The Inspiration Behind Bunch
The founding team had all grown up playing games like Starcraft and Counterstrike during LAN parties. They recalled how being in the same physical space, where they could talk and laugh together while playing live games, was what made those experiences so rich. Trash talking, competitiveness, and camaraderie was the fun part about playing these games in real time. The team also realized that modern smart phones have more to offer than the PC’s they used to play games on. That is how the idea of Bunch app started — a group video chat app that lets you play your favorite games, live with friends.
Real-time Communications Platform for Gaming
The Bunch team knew they would need a Communication Platform as a service provider, since they wanted the real-time communications capabilities inside the app. While many players rely on chat applications, like Discord and Skype, to talk with friends while gaming, the Bunch team realized that these apps don’t really work well for mobile games, being too cumbersome and text heavy to be adopted by this new and more casual gamer audience. Ultimately, they chose Agora as their CPaaS platform provider, due to its global reach and scalability, minimal device footprint, and ease of integration.
Global Reach and Scalability
If you’ve ever tried to integrate voice and video into an app with a global audience, you know the struggle. It’s a real challenge to serve video on top of a game and achieve the same experience for each user, no matter where in the world they are playing. With a global network dedicated to low latency, high-availability real-time audio and video, Agora provides the global reach and scalability that Bunch needs out of the box.
Minimal Device Footprint
Games are resource heavy by nature, so the real-time video feature needs to have a minimal resource footprint — or it will negatively impact the gaming experience. Bunch faced CPU and RAM usage problems with a previous RTC provider, so when they reviewed Agora.io as a potential replacement, these items were at the top of their list. The Agora SDK has a small footprint already, but the ability to further customize video profiles gave them the opportunity to optimize further.
“With Agora, you get 20–30 video/audio profiles and scenarios with the ability to choose according to your use case. Agora’s option to choose the lowest video profile to reduce impact on the device and latency was a game changer,” said Selcuk Atli, CEO of Bunch.
Ease of Integration
Ease of integration was another reason that the Bunch team chose Agora. They were using another RTC provider initially but integration on that platform was time intensive. Agora’s community is simply more robust, which enabled them to find a React Native wrapper that was community-built. This helped them ramp up and implement the real time communications functionality in a very short time.
They told us third party integrations are really easy with Agora as well. They’ve employed several third party services to add functionality they required and it was no hassle to integrate with other services on top of Agora’s SDK.
Tips for Developers
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! Bunch was one of the teams that let us know they really needed Bitcode, and Agora just recently announced the support for Bitcode. Bunch also needed to fine-tune audio mixing to minimize impact on game play. They were able to find the right solution for them through interaction with the Agora team and by using the developer portal. With the flexibility that Agora SDK provides, they can choose audio over video when the user experience calls for it. They can also amplify or decrease audio output from the device, and audio mixing allows them to leverage this ability just when the user needs it.
If you would like to know more about the Agora AMG SDK, or have any questions for us or for the Agora developer community, feel free to reach out on the Agora Slack Channel. To join our Slack Community, please fill out the following form and we’ll send you an invite.