AWS for Games Blog

How Piepacker leverages Amazon Chime SDK to reinvent “Couch Gaming”

Piepacker “Play Together”

Back in the late 2019, Benjamin Devienne and Jules Testard came up with the idea to recreate “couch gaming” through a web browser. As the pandemic disrupted our lives in early 2020, the realization that people need to see each other while enjoying entertainment activities became apparent and the idea of “couch gaming” took the shape of a new mission to create a platform that lets customers see each other while gaming. This was the genesis that led to Piepacker, that they founded in April 2020.

Piepacker's platform

Piepacker’s platform.
Image Credit: Piepacker

“We created Piepacker to offer a social and low tech-friendly cloud gaming platform,” said CEO Benjamin Devienne. “We designed it to be accessible to everyone — available directly from a web browser, it does not require a high-speed internet connection to provide a seamless multiplayer game experience. Piepacker is all about bringing people together through games, with a touch of childhood playfulness and creativity.”.

The platform beta was launched in May 2021, and has passed the half million users mark as of today, with a catalog of more than 80 licensed games, in partnership with recognized publishers such as Atari, Codemasters, Interplay, Team 17, and Data East. They have recently raised a $12M funding round led by Lego Ventures.

Jules Testard, PiePacker CTO | Image Credit: Piepacker

Jules Testard, PiePacker CTO Image Credit: Piepacker

Amazon Chime SDK : “couch gaming” made easy.

We took some time to discuss Piepacker’s technology with their CTO, Jules Testard and learn a little bit more about how it works. Piepacker is a cloud platform, it is a web site where you come in and play, and once you’ve started a game session you can send a link to your friends so that they can join you and play together. The idea is to recreate the experience of being together in the living room, having fun in front of a videogame, but online. This is why videoconferencing is an integral and very important part of the experience.

When they started their development, they made an evaluation of different videoconferencing providers, including Amazon Chime. Without videoconferencing, the platform does not make sense, so stability is a big deal for Piepacker. They had been using another service provider for several months during their development phase and suffered several outages. One day, the Piepacker platform was unavailable for about six hours. This is when they decided to move to Amazon Chime. “Since we’ve started using Amazon Chime, our platform’s stability greatly improved.”, commented Jules.

Jules also mentioned that what he particularly likes about the Amazon Chime SDK is the breadth of the capabilities and features available. What might appear at first sight to be additional complexity, quickly disappears: once they decided what feature to use, integration was straightforward. For example, when they wanted to apply a mask on the player’s faces, they’ve been able to take advantage of Amazon Chime device detection and preview capabilities to intercept the video stream, add the mask filter, and send it to other people in the room. Most of the available solutions are integrated into the browser for more specific use cases which makes it much more difficult to do, and not as elegant or scalable. Amazon Chime offers performance at half the cost of other solutions that were benchmarked, and being a free platform is an important considerations for Piepacker. “With Chime, we can achieve volume at a competitive price.”, Jules pointed out.

PiePacker’s Platorm

Another important aspect in Piepacker’s decision to use Amazon Chime was the support they received during their first phase of development. Early on they pointed out that if you were alone in a videoconference room, it would expire after 30 minutes. Piepacker’s players would often start playing games by themselves and their friends would try to join after the 30 minute cut off period. As soon as they exposed this issue to the AWS Team, they were connected with the Amazon Chime team and within the span of a week the delay was increased to six hours. In Jules’ own words: “it shows that AWS was really reactive to what our use case was and was able to find a solution to our problem“.

Finally, thanks to Chime, the Piepacker team does not have to worry about the scalability of their videoconferencing layer. The servers that are powering the video conferencing are automatically scaled by Chime. They are able to create over 10,000 rooms a day without any issues with quota, outage, or slowness. Maintaining good quality audio and video feeds is also critical and there were no noticeable decrease in quality as the number of rooms were increased.

A Glimpse into the Future

In order to scale their platform, Piepacker also leverages Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service. Their games are running in a fleet of containers, on demand. Piepacker is also looking at new features of the AWS cloud, such as Local Zones, to be able to run games with minimal latency for their players. “What really distinguishes AWS and what really matters to us is stability and customer support, that means that our business stays online and in good shape even as our customer base grows.”, Jules said. And we hope it will continue to grow, as Piepacker is now developing their own games for the platform. You can try the Piepacker service now!

Learn more about the Amazon Chime SDK and explore usage examples that could also inspire your future projects!