Rival Peak – Follow Up 1

[December 16th, 2020]

The experimental interactive experience has been up for more than 10 days and has finished the first weekly loop of “heart of experience”, Rival Speak. You can try the reality show / game at fb.gg/play/rivalpeak.

My first impression for Rival Peak before its launch was the experience is not engaging. Now that I have tried the “gameplay” and watched the “show”, the impression hasn’t changed much. I believe there are people who enjoy the experience and find other use cases of the Rival Peak. For example, Rival Peak has great ambience music so some people would just keep it up in the background (like video of 10-hour raining in mountain with campfire category on Youtube).

Maybe it’s due to Facebook platform strategy, Rival Peak has limited social presence outside of Facebook ecosystem. Rival Peak currently lacks discussion on twitter and content on Youtube. The media coverage concentrates on the product launch, not much about the post-launch reception. It will get harder and harder for Rival Peak to gain traction (the constraint comes from design of experience) unless it has extremely strong live ops to do growth hack. Not much time left for this product before it loses momentum and enters into phase out mode (in my previous post, I simply don’t think this product can take off after quickly reviewing its trailer…).

I have no idea what kind of post mortem this product will have but I enjoy more watching VTubers playing Minecraft and chatting in a foreign language that I don’t speak (e.g. Usada Pekora from Hololive).

Do you find it enjoyable to interact with something human-like that takes your inputs to feed the algorithm / model or to watch interaction between algorithms / models based on real-time data input without clear gameplay? During Rival Speak, it’s unbearable to see an interaction with between a human and an “AI” with human-written script voice-acted by another human.

Rival Peak – Initial Thoughts

Background of Rival Peak

Below is how Facebook describes Rival Peak and its trailer:

Rival Peak is an experimental competition reality show, featuring artificially intelligent contestants whose fate is controlled by YOU, the viewing audience. You can interact with the real-time experience through an instant game right on Facebook.

Rival Peak Official Website

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Initial Thoughts

Do you think the experience presented in the trailer above interesting?

The interactive experience will be launched later today so apparently I get my impression from the trailer. I know it’s totally subjective but at the moment I don’t think the experience is interesting or engaging enough to retain a level of audience / players that Facebook expects.

While I don’t watch reality shows and seldom play role-playing games, my first questions for this interactive experience are:

  • What’s the core experience for a reality show?
  • What’s the core gameplay for a role-playing game?

This experiment blends observing element in reality show (watching someone interacting with others) with immersive element in role-playing game (playing the role of someone) and adds some UGC element (audience decides some parts of the show / game) to create a new category / genre. This new experience feels confusing to me. I hope Facebook finds ways to make the experience enjoyable otherwise this will be just… an experiment where you blend two things together hoping to enjoy both but it turns out you get non.

Nobody cares about the cloud computing or AI stuff in cloud gaming. They are like new capabilities that people expect to have so that the gameplay will be more enjoyable or engaging…

In terms of IP, I think it’s not going to be long lasting. Again, very subjective, maybe it’s due to art style… Developers might further expand the IP during the show / game but I see limited potential overall.

Since it’s a reality show and a game played real time, live ops might be the only place that this experiment can have optionality. At glance, the setup is not very favorable but strong live ops that have quick iteration and creative operation / coordination might be able to turn things around.

It’s difficult to say an experiment is a flop (well it’s an experiment!) and the fact that the show / game is being distributed on a 2B+ social graph guarantees it will have some impressive metrics like peak concurrent viewer / players… That said, given my impression above, I expect retention will be weak even though Facebook might design various loops in the experience to maintain engagement.

People will talk about 2B+ build-in social graph cannot guarantee the success of a confusing experience and that the cloud gaming in this iteration is not what they expect (they’re not surprised or amazed by the experience).

I expect there will be other iterations on the tech but no season 2 for Rival Peak. Maybe I will change my mind after trying the experience.

Wish Rival Peak has a great launch!