Raptr's Instagram-like service lets gamers preserve their special moments

Plays.tv, which launches to the public Tuesday, gives players a destination for their best game highlights.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
3 min read

Plays.tv will let users curate a profile of video game highlights to let others see what they're playing. Raptr

Dennis Fong thinks video games are full of moments as sharable as perfectly captured brunch omelets and beach sunsets.

Those game clips just need their own version of Instagram, where gamers can share their special moments, too. As chief executive of Raptr, Fong has a social networking service that can do just that.

"There are these moments that you can experience when you play: the feeling of accomplishment, success, failure, funny moments," he said. "It's kind of sad that most of those moments are ephemeral. They happen and they're not memorialized or preserved and there's no way to relive it in a social setting for your friends."

That's where Raptr's Plays.tv comes in. The service, which has been quietly running for a few months now but launches to the public Tuesday, is essentially an Instagram for PC game highlights. Users can create a Raptr profile and upload clips through any video-capture technology. Plays.tv will feature a constant stream of highlights to show what people have played and what they feel is worth showing off. Raptr will automatically transition its 46 million users to the service.

Video game footage has become one of the industry's most lucrative markets over the last few years. Gamers are flocking in the millions to services like Twitch, which lets them record themselves or watch competitive matches as they occur. Yet Twitch is much like a live television channel for watching professional game-playing. Fong wants Plays.tv to be space where gamers can post their highlights after the fact.

"Twitch is an awesome service, but it's really for someone that wants to perform and entertain," Fong said. With Plays.tv, he said, you "don't have to feel like there's an audience," much in the same way an everyday smartphone user can share a shot to Instagram with zero interest in making money off the service or growing in popularity.

Plays.tv will also offer Raptr's same-name capturing service, which it originally launched last year with AMD as the Gaming Evolved client and with Intel as part of its Quick Sync service. Like other tools on the market, the service will constantly record 15 seconds to 20 minutes of game play that you can save and upload with the press of a button. Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One game consoles also feature comparable recording capabilities.

While it may not directly brush up against Twitch, Plays.tv faces an even larger competitor: Google's YouTube video service. YouTube "Let's Play" videos, in which everyday gamers add audio commentary and share their game screen with strangers, have already launched the careers of numerous online personalities.

Swedish producer Felix Kjellberg, who goes by the handle "PewDiePie," has racked up almost 35.7 million subscribers and 8.3 million views of his gaming videos. He earned $4 million in 2013. While he has by far the largest following, Kjellberg is just one of thousands who have made YouTube the primary destination for recorded game-related videos.

As Fong sees it, gamers flocked to YouTube only because they had no viable alternative. He hopes Plays.tv will be more than just a place to passively view game clips.

"There are gaming moments in your life that you want to remember," he said. "And guess what? There's a whole community of people that have experienced something similar."