Game streaming lives on as Big Fish launches 100 cloud games on Android devices

Big Fish Games announced today that its cloud gaming service will now be available on Android tablets. The company’s Big Fish Unlimited service debuted a month ago on web-connected PCs as a casual gaming service with more than 100 games from Big Fish’s library.

As Big Fish adds new platforms for its service, it will eventually work its way toward creating a universal cloud gaming service where customers can pay a subscription fee and access their games on just about any device as they move from location to location throughout the day.

With Big Fish Unlimited, users don’t have to download games to their devices or PCs. The games run in a web-connected data center and video is sent over broadband connections to user’s devices, which merely display the images. The service seems very similar to OnLive, which crashed in a big way on Aug. 17 and is now attempting a rebirth, but Big Fish chief executive Paul Thelen said in an interview with GamesBeat a few weeks ago that his service doesn’t require nearly as much infrastructure since Big Fish’s games are mostly low-tech, 2D games. OnLive was trying to stream high-end 3D games, and the infrastructure costs for custom graphics servers eventually brought down that company.

Thelen hasn’t revealed what service or infrastructure his company is using, but they only needs one data center on the west coast and another on the east coast to support demand in the U.S. His company can also get about 22 to 30 users on a single commodity server, making it a lot easier to recoup server costs through subscription fees. Big Fish is charging $7.99 a month for all-access subscriptions to more than 100 games, and eventually 1,000 games will be available. Users who don’t want to pay can enjoy games from a rotating catalog as long as they view ads.

Will O’Brien, general manager of the service, also said in an interview with GamesBeat that Big Fish owns exclusive streaming rights to all of the games (60 percent to 70 percent are owned outright) that are on its service, another distinction compared to OnLive, which had to acquire rights from publishers — and some of those didn’t want to give their games over to someone else. Users will be able to access games on more devices in the future, including web-connected TVs later this year through a partnership with Roku.

“With the addition of support for Android devices, Big Fish Unlimited is now a truly multiplatform streaming service and live on two screens: PC and mobile,” O’Brien said. “We are very excited to support the recently launched, exceptional Nexus 7 tablet from Google. Instant cloud gaming is a perfect fit for this fast-performing device.”

In its first week after its launch in July, Big Fish Unlimited got customers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Big Fish is adding new games every week. One new feature is My Playlist, which allows users to manage games that they will play later. Big Fish Games has 550 employees and was founded in 2002. It has a network of more than 500 developers who have contributed games, as well as its own game studio.

Thelen said that the company used technology from iSwifter, now known as Agawi, as well as its own technology.

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