Saturday, October 27, 2007

Now we'll see...

For a long time, there's been speculation about why video phones haven't really "caught on." Maybe it's because we like to answer the phone without brushing our hair. Maybe it's because there are not enough other people that have it. Maybe it's because the idea of a telemarketer seeing me *at all* is somewhat terrifying.

I think partly it's because there hasn't been a "killer connectivity" issue related to one-to-one video conferencing. Yes, there are web cams. And they're still largely being used by bleeding-edge types, or by businesses with an interest. Absent a desire to connect with another, specific person... as of yet, there isn't a really good reason why an individual consumer might say, "Yeah. I need that."

Until -- maybe -- now.

Arsenal Interactive has announced "HeyCosmo," an online Texas Hold'em poker plug-in for Facebook, complete w/ webcam support. So you can see the other people you're playing poker with (up to 10), join new games and watch other games.

Poker is one of the few games that's; A) wicked popular, and, B) is actually improved by face-to-face play. I'm sorry... it may be more fun to play sudoku cooperatively, but I'm pretty sure that being able to vid yer opponent's mug won't significantly affect the gameplay. Poker, though? The psychology of the game is a huge part of it... in real life. And while webcam support doesn't provide all the benefits of live play -- you won't catch your opponents' tells if they're below the neck -- it will, I suspect, add to the fun and playability for many players.

Combine that with the fact that Facebook already has a couple bjillion users who already know each other... and this might be the moment that webcam stuff takes off for the masses.

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