November 26, 2009
Playcast brings video games to TV without the need for a console
Nigel Kendall, Technology Editor
The thrill of the virtual punch-up or shoot-out could soon be on a television channel near you. A company claims to have surmounted the last remaining hurdle in bringing the latest video games direct to television without the need for a games console.
Playcast plans to offer a mix of up to 20 games from leading producers on a channel that you would subscribe to as you would with a film channel. The games would then be played in the home via existing cable TV networks without any extra hardware.
Alon Shtruzman, Playcast’s chief operating officer, said the company was launching the service in Israel at the beginning of 2010 and planned to offer it in Britain by the end of next year.
“We see ourselves as a pay TV operation, engaging with companies like Virgin, Sky, BT in the UK and Cablevision in the US, offering video games on demand as part of the TV mix. The games portal will appear like a channel on the electronic programme guide,” he said.
The company claims to have overcome the main technical difficulty in broadcasting games through existing cable networks. Unlike consoles such as Nintendo’s and Sony’s, there is a delay between pushing a button on a remote control and anything happening on the screen. While this half-second delay is acceptable when watching films, video games require an instant on-screen reaction.
Playcast said it had overcome this with a patented video-compression system, which cuts the lag to 100 milliseconds.
“We see the UK as a big opportunity,” Mr Shtruzman said. “The iPlayer has helped to establish this country as a world leader in internet TV, and we see our offering as a natural addition to the existing pay TV structure.”
Russell Barash, the UK managing director of Playcast, said: “At launch, we will offer a mix of between 15 and 20 games designed to appeal to all tastes, from brainteasers and simple puzzles through to complex games like Call of Duty. We want to launch with a package of games that you would subscribe to as you do a movie channel.”
“We could be looking at the last generation of separate gaming consoles,” Mr Shtruzman said.
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