Dolby announced today that Axon, their surround sound voice chat software, is shutting down on December 5, 2016. All user data will be erased one week after the shut down. Users will not be able to use the software after the shut down, as it relies on their servers to operate.
Dolby Axon is a gimmicky surround sound voice chat program in which users select a physical location within a virtual room, and hear other users based on their location in the virtual room relative to their own. This provides some level of tactical advantage in certain types of games, where you might need a lot of people in the same chat room, but want certain users to hear each other more than others.(For example, a large raid in an MMORPG where players are split up into smaller groups)
The application did not find much widespread use among gamers, and as a result, it is being shut down. The program was confusing and difficult for new users to figure out. While there are some cases in which hardcore gamers could benefit from the program, the low rate of market adaption, as well as difficulty in setting it up deterred most gaming guilds/groups from choosing it as their VOIP solution.
Dolby Axon allowed users to form permanent communities for free, much like what Discord now provides. With Discord being very easy to use, not requiring a download, having a mobile app, and being completely free, Dolby Axon lost the appeal it had as a voice chat solution that allows users to create channels for free.
The Dolby team recommends using Curse or Discord as an alternative for existing users/communities.
Other Potential Uses?
While Dolby Axon is shutting down, it’s quite possible that Dolby may find other uses for it’s client-server, surround sound VOIP technology. Online games, especially those in Virtual Reality, could benefit immensely from a surround-sound voice chat system, if it includes API to allow the game to provide in game player locations to the software. Surround sound voice chat could add another layer of realism to VR games. Many small development studios might not want to spend the time and money creating a surround-sound, client-server based voice chat system, and could theoretically opt to license it from another company to save on costs involved with reinventing the wheel.
This is all speculation, but it does seem like a smart way to make use of what they’re scrapping. Dolby Axon failed due to its confusing interface and high level of setup required of users. If they can find a way to create an API in which they can integrate the software directly with online games, it could solve every single issue the software faced, and create a lot of value for small-medium sized development studios creating online games.