You have asked the big questions, delving deep into the psyche of Xfire, and we have done our best to answer. Thanks to everyone who posted! Without further ado, this is the Ask Xfire: Answers Edition….
Q: I switched to Raptr two years ago. Why should I switch back to Xfire?
A: (Mark Donovan, President) That entirely depends on why you left Xfire and the types of games you play. Raptr focuses on platforms other than the PC and tends to be geared towards a more casual audience – Xfire has focused on social services for PC gamers.
With Xfire 2.0 and the launch of Battleground we’re shifting the company’s focus more squarely on competitive games and providing a platform for players to easily participate in online events around their favorite games. The new client is far superior to the old one in every respect, works inside of more games, and will be seeing a ton of new feature updates over the coming months. If you’re a PC gamer, Xfire is definitely the client for you and you should give our new client a go!
Q: With Valve’s Steam to compete with, Xfire isn’t nearly as popular as it was in earlier years. Do you feel like Xfire is slowly fading into non-existence?
A: (Paul Kim, CEO) Up to this point, yes. Historically, with any company that has been the biggest, and Xfire at one point was the largest gaming community in the world, the only path is down, especially with more and more competitors each year.
Xfire has enjoyed significant growth over the last 10 years and Steam came in with 2 incredible pieces – technology and content. These, coupled with a fantastic “self-publishing” model, has not only hurt gaming communities worldwide, but has also put a big dent to publishers who are losing more and more titles to self publishing models through Steam.
Hence, the major change at Xfire. We have technology and applications that are a perfect complement to competitive gaming – online tournaments and head-to-head challenges. We have a desktop application that launches directly into competition, displays scores in real time as an overlay, allows users to communicate, record and broadcast their competitive game play. Steam doesn’t do that. 🙂
Stick around – we have tons of great stuff coming up!
Q: How much money do you get from our downloads of Xfire?
A: (Kenna Ranson, Marketing Director) Xfire is a free service – as such, we don’t take money from our users. We operate primarily on an advertising revenue model: that is, we get paid to show advertisements on our website and in our client. We know that this can be annoying for our users, but to keep Xfire free, it helps us pay for our operating costs. So for those of you out there with ad blockers – we know ads are annoying, but they help us stay in business…so please consider unblocking Xfire if you love us!
Q: When will we get Xfire for Android?
A: (Niles Plante, Product Manager) We have spent the last two years upgrading and improving Xfire’s technology stack. We have one more upgrade to perform before Xfire for Android is possible. As an android user myself, I can’t wait to see us support the Android gaming community.
Q: Which game is your favourite and do you have any game that you think is underrated and should be played by everybody?
A: (Devin Swan, QA Lead) Right now I have to say my fav game is the new Tomb Raider. It’s what I want out of a game, as an adult who grew up playing The legend of Zelda. Which may in fact be my favorite game. At least a close tie with Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes.
If you want to play a couple great underrated games, check out my fav retro games on Steam: Dead Pixels for some 8-bit zombies. Hotline Miami has the best 16-bit violence ever. And of course Retro City Rampage is so much fun. I wish it was a real Nintendo game.
Q: Why can’t we have IRC integration so that we can use it in-game?
A: (Scott Montgomerie, VP Engineering) We have definitely thought of this, and will likely get to it – however, we feel Skype, Facebook and GChat are bigger priorities right now.
Q: Any chance of a Mac version?
A: (Niles Plante, Product Manager) While a lot of us use and love Mac’s, unfortunately we are not in the position to do this yet. We want want to make sure that we get all of the issues sorted out on windows before we explore taking it to Mac. Ultimately, Xfire needs to support platforms where gamers play and Mac is gaining support from gamers so it isn’t out of the question.
Q: When are you guys going to launch Xfire API for developers so they can use Xfire things on their websites or apps?
A: (Ben McDermott, Community Manager) We currently have a read-only XML API which you can make good use of: http://www.xfire.com/xml/help This API has been floating around (albeit not easy to find) for a few years. We hope to release a more robust version of the API in the future, which will include more public feeds and personal account feeds!
Q: When Skype replaces MSN, will we see Skype functionality in the IM part of Xfire?
A: (Scott Montgomerie, VP Engineering) Absolutely – this is on our roadmap, and we are likely a few months out from it.
Q: Is there a discussion to implement a more advanced Facebook API into your site? Giving us the ability to post certain things to Facebook, like the “This user has played 5,000 hours of game” straight from the site…
A: (Niles Plante, Product Manager) Yes. Moving away from the old site has been a long and painful process and we still have some bugs to fix. Once those bugs are fixed, we will be focusing on Facebook sharing both on the web and from the client.
Q: Can we still use the old Xfire layout, when the new one comes out it looks more like a smartphone app than Xfire?
A: (Niles Plante, Product Manager) The new layout wasn’t inspired by a love for smartphones as much as it was inspired by a hatred for scrolling to see all of the data about something. We were aiming for an “always on” experience that users could leave up while they had other windows open without getting in the way. This lent itself to a thinner client. Thin clients and tabular data formats do not make for easy consumption of data. To avoid scrolling, we organized the data of an object into tiles. The result is somewhat congruent with smartphones, where horizontal scrolling is required due to the form factor of the screen, but we arrived at it from a different starting point.
As far as supporting additional layouts is concerned, we have no plans to do this. Skins were easier to support in the ship-and-forget days of software when revisions were far less frequent. In today’s world of constantly updating software, skins create a significant, negative impact on development velocity. Each skin adds to the complexity of development and testing of a new feature. So if it takes 3 weeks to add a new feature, it would take another week+ to develop and test that feature on each additional skin.
Additionally supporting users is difficult with multiple skins. If a user asked how to perform a task, we’d have to let them know what/where to click for every skin, It also complicates user reported bug reproduction and tracking. For these as well as other reasons, skins will no longer be supported.
Q: Why is Xfire taking forever to detect games now? I remember before Xfire was sold it was releasing detection for games before the game was coming out.
A: (Ben McDermott, Community Manager) Game Support in general has been running at the same pace – if not faster – since the buyout. Xfire has always done same-day support for AAA titles, but there can be times where the team experience technical issues that leads to a title being supported the next day. Fortunately that’s not common. We are always finding ways to improve Game Support, and 2013 along with Xfire 2.0 is a good time to push forward.
And finally, the most thoughtful and profound of all inquiries:
Q: How’s it going Xfire?
A: (Danny Harper, Writer) Glad you asked. Not bad at all. You?
So there you have it. All of us at Xfire would like to give our sincere thanks to everyone who participated in this little experiment. It is this commentary between Xfire and our users that will help us create the best PC gaming community around.
We enjoyed Ask Xfire so much that you should expect another in the near future. Start thinking of your questions now! Godspeed.