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Photography Mika Baumeister, via Unsplash

Success, smears, and an inevitable slump: Houseparty is shutting down

Everyone’s favourite quarantine app is set to be discontinued after a year of unprecedented popularity, a hacking scandal, and eventual abandonment by its users

Think back to the first week of quarantine: after a day WFB (working from bed) because you don’t have an office set up, you whip up a quick dinner of tinned soup because there was no fresh vegetables in the supermarket, then you sit down for three hours of crashing group calls and guessing what your mates have haphazardly drawn on a new app called Houseparty. Well, now you can kiss goodbye to these fond memories because after a year of unprecedented success – followed by a swift and devastating demise – the app is shutting down.

In a statement shared yesterday (September 9), it was announced that Houseparty will be discontinued from October. “We do not take the decision to discontinue the app lightly,” its creators wrote. “We created Houseparty to let people feel like they’re together even when physically apart, and we can’t thank you enough for turning to Houseparty for the important moments in your life. In a year when we couldn’t be physically together, we’re even more honoured that you turned to Houseparty to laugh, play games, and create memories while apart.”

Although it will be removed from app stores “immediately”, those who already have Houseparty will be able to enjoy its last moments for another month.

During its short-lived tenure as Everyone’s Favourite App, Houseparty faced its fair share of controversy. Namely, rumours that it had fallen victim to hackers, threatening users’ security details. The app responded by accusing someone of spreading “a paid commercial smear campaign to harm Houseparty”, and offered a $1 million reward to anyone who had information about the alleged smear campaign.

With all that behind them, the Houseparty team is turning its attention to… the metaverse. According to its statement, Epic Games – who bought Houseparty in 2019 – is “working on creating new ways to have meaningful and authentic social interactions at metaverse scale”.

“Since joining Epic, the Houseparty team’s social vision and core technology have already contributed to new features used by hundreds of millions of people in Fortnite and by developers around the world. As a result, we can’t give the app or our community the attention it deserves.”

Or: everyone abandoned us so now we have to shut down. Anyway, the statement concludes, “while Houseparty may be going away, we hope that the memories you’ve made will last a lifetime”. Cute! RIP x