Audio-only video games were a big hit — and could be coming back

Not all video games need video. Over the years, games that exist only in audio have taken players into entirely new worlds in which there’s nothing to see and still everything to do. These games have huge accessibility implications, allowing people who can’t see to play an equally fun, equally immersive game with their other senses. And when all you have is sound, there’s actually even more you can do to make your game great.

On this episode of The Vergecast, we explore the history of audio-only games with Paul Bennun, who has been in this space longer than most. Years ago, Bennun and his team at Somethin’ Else made a series of games called Papa Sangre that were among the most innovative and most popular games of their kind. He explains what makes an audio game work, why the iPhone 4 was such a crucial technological achievement for these games, and more.

Bennun also makes the case that, right now, even in this ultra-visual time, is the perfect time for a rebirth of audio games. He points to AirPods and other spatial audio headphones along with devices like the Vision Pro, advances in location tracking, and improvements in multiplayer gaming as reasons to think that audio-first games could be a huge hit now. It even sounds a bit like Bennun might have a game in the works, but he won’t tell us about that.

If you want to know more about the topics we cover in this episode, here are a few links to get you started:

Leave a Comment