GamesBeat

Playcast Media partners with Nvidia and cable TV set-top makers for cloud-gaming service

OnLive and Gaikai carried the baton for cloud gaming in its early years, but Playcast Media is picking it up and running with it. Playcast has added set-top box makers Cisco, Pace, and AirTires as partners for its cloud-gaming service, in addition to existing partners Samsung and Sagem. The company is making the announcements at the International Broadcaster Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam and at the Cloud Gaming U.S.A. conference in Burlingame, Calif., today.

On top of that, the company recently said it has teamed up with Nvidia to bring Playcast’s cloud-gaming platform to a major telecommunications box maker, Bouygues Telecom Bbox, in France.

Cloud-gaming services run games not as disk-based content. They run them on web-connected data centers on computers known as servers. The servers compute the games and render their graphics, and then send a stream of video over a broadband connection to a user’s display, such as a lightweight computer or a TV set. With this solution, service operators can let users play high-end games on low-end hardware, like a set-top box for a TV.

Nvidia has created new graphics chips that are built for cloud gaming, and it has also created its own GeForce Grid cloud-gaming platform. Playcast will run its service on the GeForce Grid and deliver cloud games to a wide variety of TV set-top boxes. In turn, service operators such as cable TV companies or telecom firms can offer the games to their users for a fee.

The French telecom firm Bouygues Telecom — which offers web-based TV, phone, and Internet services — will also offer AAA-quality games in France to its 1.3 million subscribers.

“Recently, cloud-gaming services have come under media scrutiny with acquisitions and bankruptcies — a reference to Gaikai, which Sony bought for $380 million, and OnLive, which underwent a change of ownership,” said Guy De Beer, the chief executive of Playcast Media. “We, however, continue to grow globally as operators see the value of adding games to pay-TV offerings. The rapid growth of Bouygues Telecom’s games service is a testament to that growing demand, and we’re excited to talk about real usage and data at this year’s IBC.”

Playcast Media is focused on the cable TV and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) markets around the world. Cloud games are just one more video stream that can be dispatched as a channel on an IP-based service. GeForce Grid provides the infrastructure so that the cloud games can be distributed to any device, including those powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 mobile processors.

“Nvidia GeForce Grid and Tegra 3 processors represent a massive disruption in how people can experience games on any device, anywhere and anytime they choose,” said Phil Eisler, the general manager of Cloud Gaming and 3D Vision at Nvidia. “GeForce Grid technology enables the instant delivery of the highest quality visuals to Playcast customers like Bouygues Telecom.”

In the deals with Cisco, Pace, and AirTires, Playcast will deliver cloud games to as many as 120 million set-top boxes around the world. The partners will integrate Playcast’s streaming technology with their set-top boxes.

Playcast video game partners include publishers such as Atari, Capcom, Codemasters, Disney, Sega, THQ, Warner Bros., and more.

“Game developers have long relied on consoles, PCs, and mobile devices to bring their games to consumers,” said De Beer. “But cloud gaming — and more specifically, our technology — changes that model. These new technology partnerships are great news for cable providers. Now they too can get in on the game and deliver some of the world’s most popular gaming content directly to subscribers around the globe.”

Playcast’s service will be shown at IBC on a variety of Android-based set-top boxes, tablets, and smartphones.

Playcast’s investors include JVP in Israel and U.S.-based MK Capital, as well as Xenia Venture Capital and C.Mer Industries.

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