Playcast Media Launches Platform Enabling "Console-Quality" Games on Cable Set-Top Boxes

--Israeli Cable Operator, Hot, Launches Pilot of the Company's Service

Playcast Media, a start-up with offices in Israel and London that was founded by two Harmonic veterans--Guy De Beer, who previously managed that company's VOD product lines, and Natan Peterfreund, who was previously its principal scientist and who is one of the originators of the H.264 compression standard--announced Monday the launch of what it says will be a large-scale games-on-demand pilot program with Israeli cable operator, Hot. For the first time in pay-TV history, the company claims, viewers will be able to play their favorite video games directly from their existing cable set-top box without using a gaming console. Playcast says that the launch of Playcast Games-on-Demand, as the service is called, is the culmination of four years of development. The company bills the service as "the only live and deployed service of its kind on cable television."

According to Playcast, the games-on-demand pilot allows Hot subscribers to play modern, high-end video games on their existing set-top box, using a game pad or controller, without lags or latency. The company says that its system uses a proprietary new technology to deliver PlayStation 3- and Xbox 360-quality games, on-demand, to ordinary cable or telco set-top boxes via standard cable telephone lines. It says that the technology uses "ultra-high-speed" processing to handle off-the-shelf games and distribute those games' audio and visual output as digital video. "The Playcast Media services pilot proves the viability of this type of on-demand service and brings to fruition the vision of TV games-on-demand, enabling new growth opportunities for game publishers and TV operators with minimum investment, as well as an affordable gaming experience to hundreds of millions of cable and IPTV subscribers around the world," Playcast CEO, Guy De Beer, said in a prepared statement.

Playcast says that the goal of the Hot pilot is to beta-test its platform at full capacity on a live cable network, while simultaneously gathering user feedback on the platform's portal user interface and the gaming experience it enables. According to the company, the pilot will be followed immediately by a full operational roll-out of its games-on-demand service.

Playcast bills its games-on-demand platform as "bring[ing] next-generation IP owners to hundreds of millions of connected households, with the ease of already established billing, customer care and support systems through the cable operators." It claims that the platform enables "seamless integration" between TV and games, and will bring new business opportunities for games publishers, broadcasters and advertisers. The company claims to be "engaged in advanced evaluation phases with the world's leading cable and IPTV operators," and says it expects to launch its platform in major markets in the US, Europe and Asia, this near and next.