PUN Classic (v1), PUN 2 and Bolt are in maintenance mode. PUN 2 will support Unity 2019 to 2022, but no new features will be added. Of course all your PUN & Bolt projects will continue to work and run with the known performance in the future. For any upcoming or new projects: please switch to Photon Fusion or Quantum.

UserIDs and Friends


In Photon, a player is identified using a unique UserID.

UserIDs are case sensitive. Example: "Photonian" and "photonian" are two different UserIDs for two different players.

This UserID is useful inside and outside rooms. Photon clients with the same UserID can be connected to the same server but you can't join the same Photon room from two separate clients using the same UserID. Each actor inside the room should have a unique UserID. In old C# client SDKs, this was enabled using RoomOptions.CheckUserOnJoin.

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Unique UserIDs

Generally, UserIDs are not intended to be displayed. Unlike usernames, displaynames or nicknames. A UserID does not have to be human-readable or very human-friendly. So you could, for instance, use a GUID as a UserID.

The advantages of keeping a unique UserID per player:

  • You preserve your data between game sessions and across multiple devices. You can rejoin rooms and resume playing where you stopped.
  • You can become known to all players you meet and easily identifiable by everyone. You can play with your friends, send them invitations and challenges, make online parties, form teams and guilds, etc. You can add user profiles (e.g. experience, statistics, achievements, levels, etc.) and make games more challenging (also using tournaments and leaderboards).
  • You could make use of another service to bind Photon UserID to an external unique identifier. For instance, Photon UserID could be set to Facebook ID, Google ID, Steam ID, PlayFab ID, etc.
  • You can prohibit malicious users from connecting to your applications by keeping a blocklist of their UserIDs and making use of Custom Authentication.

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Setting UserIDs

Once authenticated, a Photon client will keep the same UserID until disconnected. The UserID for a client can be set in three ways:

  1. Client sends its UserID before connecting by setting AuthenticationValues.UserId. This option is useful when you do not use Custom Authentication and want to set a UserID.
  2. An external authentication provider returns the UserID on successful authentication. See Custom Authentication. It will override any value sent by the client.
  3. Photon Server will assign GUIDs as IDs for users that did not get UserIDs using 1 or 2. So even anonymous users will have UserIDs.

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Publish UserIDs

Players can share their UserIDs with each other inside rooms. In C# SDKs, to enable this and make the UserID visible to everyone, set RoomOptions.PublishUserId to true, when you create a room. The server will then broadcast this information on each new join and you can access each player's UserID using Player.UserId.

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Matchmaking Slot Reservation

Sometimes, a player joins a room, knowing that a friend should join as well. With Slot Reservation, Photon can block a slot for specific users and take that into account for matchmaking. To reserve slots there is an expectedUsers parameter (exact parameter or argument name may vary depending on your client SDK) in the methods that get you in a room (JoinRoom, JoinOrCreateRoom, JoinRandomRoom and CreateRoom. Exact functions or methods names may vary depending on your client SDK).

// create room example
PhotonNetwork.CreateRoom(roomName, roomOptions, typedLobby, expectedUsers);
// join room example
PhotonNetwork.JoinRoom(roomName, expectedUsers);
// join or create room example
PhotonNetwork.JoinOrCreateRoom(roomName, roomOptions, typedLobby, expectedUsers);
// join random room example
PhotonNetwork.JoinRandomRoom(expectedProperties, maxPlayers, expectedUsers, matchmakingType, typedLobby, sqlLobbyFilter, expectedUsers);

When you know someone should join, pass an array of UserIDs. For JoinRandomRoom, the server will attempt to find a room with enough slots for you and your expected players (plus all active and expected players already in the room). The server will update clients in a room with the current expectedUsers, should they change.

You can update the list of expected users inside a room (add or remove one or more users), this is done via a well known room property. (In C# SDKs, you can get and set Room.ExpectedUsers).

To support Slot Reservation, you need to enable publishing UserIDs inside rooms.

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Example Use Case: Teams Matchmaking

You can use this to support teams in matchmaking. The leader of a team does the actual matchmaking. He/She can join a room and reserve slots for all members:

Try to find a random room:

PhotonNetwork.JoinRandomRoom(expectedProperties, maxPlayers, expectedUsers, matchmakingType, typedLobby, sqlLobbyFilter, expectedUsers);

Create a new one if none found:

PhotonNetwork.CreateRoom(roomName, roomOptions, typedLobby, teamMembersUserIds);

The others don't have to do any matchmaking but instead repeatedly call ('periodic poll', every few frames/(milli)seconds):

PhotonNetwork.FindFriends(new string[1]{ leaderUserId });

When the leader arrives in a room, the FindFriends operation will reveal that room's name and everyone can join it:


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  • Friends' UserIDs are case sensitive. Example: "mybestfriend" and "MyBestFriend" are two different UserIDs for two different friends.
  • Only friends connected to the same AppID, the same Photon Cloud region and play the same Photon AppVersion can find each other no matter what device or platform they're using.
  • FindFriends works only when connected to the Master Server, it does not work when the client is joined to a room.

You can find out if your friends who are playing the same game are online and if so, which room they are joined to. Like users, friends are also identified using their UserID. So the FriendID is the same thing as the UserID and in order to find some friends you need to know their UserIDs first. Then you can send the list of UserIDs to Photon Servers using:

using System.Collections.Generic;
using UnityEngine;
using Photon.Realtime;
using Photon.Pun;

public class FindFriendsExample : MonoBehaviourPunCallbacks
    public bool FindFriends(string[] friendsUserIds)
        return PhotonNetwork.FindFriends(friendsUserIds);

    public override void OnFriendListUpdate(List<FriendInfo> friendsInfo)
        for(int i=0; i < friendsInfo.Count; i++)
            FriendInfo friend = friendsInfo[i];
            Debug.LogFormat("{0}", friend);

Photon does not persist friends lists. You may need an external service for that.

Since Photon does not keep track of your userbase, any non existing user in your game will just be considered offline. A friend is considered online only when he/she is connected to Photon at the time of making the FindFriends query. A room name will be returned per user if the latter is online and joined to the room with the same name.

If multiple clients with the same UserId are joined to multiple separate rooms in the same Cluster / VirtualApp, FindFriends should return the latest joined one.

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