You could call it Google’s backdoor assault on the game console business. Now, the game consoles will get a run for their money from the casual games available on Exent’s GameTanium subscription service. It is one more sign that the barriers between different sectors of the games business are being knocked down. In a similar type of announcement, the retail chain GameStop said it would carry iPhones and iPads alongside portable gaming gear in its stores. If GameTanium is successful, the result could be disruption, or at least an erosion, of the traditional game console business, and games could spread to still another platform.
Under the deal, Exent’s GameTanium game service will be available under an all-you-can-eat subscription service on TVs powered by Android-based Vestel Smart set-top boxes. The games will be optimized to run on a high-definition screen, but players will be able to control them through the touchscreens on their Android phones, said Zvi Levgoren, chief executive of New York-based Exent, in an interview.
“The point is to let consumers play wherever they want to be entertained,” Levgoren said. “This is the next big domain for gaming entertainment.”
Back in July, Exent launched its mobile game subscription service on Android. Now Exent’s GameTanium service is available on PCs, mobile devices, and TVs. Vestel is one of the world’s largest makers of set-boxes and TVs. Its smart TV boxes are now migrating from Linux to Android-based operating systems, paving the way for games that can run on multiple platforms.
In the past, it was hard to adapt a whole library of games to run on TVs. That’s what TransGaming is doing with its library of casual games for its GameTree TV service, which runs on Intel-based set-top boxes. But the GameTanium games can run on Android smartphones or tablets as well as TVs. If you want to perform an action in a TV game, you can swipe your finger across your Android device’s touchscreen.
“We can take advantage of both the accelerometer and the touchscreen as controls for Android games,” Levgoren said. “It is a very intuitive user experience that maintains the original game play and control.”
Hakan Kutlu, deputy general manager for marketing at Vestel, said that consumers want games alongside video and music services on their TVs. Exent makes its GameTanium service available for partners to offer as a white-label service, where the partner can put their own brand name on the service. That’s what Vestel will do.
GameTanium is demonstrating the service on TVs at the IBC conference in Amsterdam. But the subscription service will be available sometime later for consumers.Levgoren said the company is demonstrating 16 games today and it could have 50 to 100 by launch.
Besides TransGaming, Exent will have other rivals. OnLive has cut deals with TV makers such as Vizio, which will integrate the OnLive games-on-demand service directly into its upcoming TV sets. Other rivals include Valve’s Steam, Big Fish Games, Oberon, Wild Tangent, and Real Networks’ GameHouse. Exent has 170 employees and it was founded in 1992.
Exent’s investors include Intel Capital, Cisco, Time Warner and Venture Capital Firms, such as NEA, Concord Ventures, Magma Venture Partners and Avansis Ventures.