Monday, 10 December 2012

Playcast is Targeting a Q1 2013 Launch Window for a Cloud Gaming Service in the US

Joystiq is reporting that cloud gaming service provider Playcast is aiming to launch a cloud gaming service for the US in Q1 2013. It was previously revealed that Playcast is already in talks for providing their cloud gaming service to US telecom carriers like AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner Cable. With this new piece of news it looks like those talks might be coming to fruition, though Playcast reiterated that they are still in talks with US television providers.

Playcast already has a lot of experience providing cloud gaming services for telecom companies. Apart from French Bouygues Telecom, they also provide their cloud gaming solutions to South Korean Cable TV Operator CJ HelloVision, Singapore's SingTel with their ESC cloud gaming service, and Portugal Telecom's MEO Jogos cloud gaming service. They've recently also partnered with NVIDIA and will use the NVIDIA GeForce GRID cloud gaming platform in their data centers.

Playcast offers unlimited streaming of games from the cloud through subscription packages tailored to particular users, for instance right now in France for the Bouygues Telecom Bbox games cloud gaming service there is a package for more casual gamers and a plus package aimed at the more hardcore.

In the meeting that Joystiq had with Playcast Media VP of research and development Yuval Noimark, they were shown how Playcast cloud gaming can work on a variety of different configurations like as a TV channel, on a tablet, on a TV via a tablet and Bluetooth controller, on a TV hooked up to a PC, or directly on a PC.

In the meeting Playcast pointed out that touch interfaces are an important control method for them. They showed LEGO Batman: The Videogame on a tablet working with a touch interface that was emulating Playcast’s own heads-up display over the game to provide touch controls. The controls compared favorably with other control schemes.

With Playcast gamers also have the option to control the games that are streamed to their TVs via touch devices like tablets and smartphones with Playcast instantly recognizing gamers' activity when they sign in with the auxiliary device. Gamers can even create their own skins, customizing the look and layout of the touch interface on their touch device.

Playcast didn't disclose the exact subscription options and pricing structure for their US-bound cloud gaming service. Playcast video game partners include renowned publishers such as Activision, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Disney Interactive Studios, Atari, Capcom, Codemasters, SEGA, THQ and more. They are also talking to many game developers which includes indies.

Yuval Noimark couldn't pin down the exact launch date of the Playcast cloud gaming service in the US. Since most of the exciting new TV technologies and services for the coming year are announced and shown at the CES, it's pretty certain that we will soon know more about Playcast’s cloud gaming plans for the US. The 2013 International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) will be taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 8-11.

The US cloud gaming market is sure to get even more crowded with Playcast entering the fray and joining the restructuring OnLive, Gaikai that is getting folded into the Sony PlayStation network, Ubitus with their GameNow cloud gaming service on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network, Agawi GameZen for Windows 8, Big Fish Games' Big Fish Unlimited cloud gaming service and more. Other cloud gaming services and providers like G-cluster are sure to follow into the burgeoning cloud gaming market in the US.

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