US startup plans new console launch
But is it really a console?
A Florida-based startup, Infinium Labs, has announced its intention to launch a new broadband-enabled console in the US games market by the end of the year which will compete directly with the offerings from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft.
The system, codenamed "Phantom", will be unveiled in March and released commercially in November. Information is sparse, but the company makes bold claims for the system - namely that it will be the fastest console on the market, will have the largest selection of games of any system, and will have an advanced gaming on demand system tailored for broadband users.
There are certainly shades of Indrema here - an ill-fated project to create a new console platform based on open standards and the Linux operating system - but the key point to note is that Infinium consistently refer to their online delivery system as being a key selling point for the console. Indeed, the company proudly announces that its key staff have backgrounds in telecommunications, data communications, digital rights management, software development and security - not games or consoles, then.
So, by the looks of things, what we actually have here is a PC in a console-shaped box with a subscription-based gaming on demand service tied in. The company proudly claims that tens of thousands of software titles will be available at launch; presumably taking the optimistic view that every publisher will be happy for them to sell their PC current and back catalogue products over a gaming on demand service.
In terms of bringing PC gaming to the mass market, it's certainly an interesting approach. However, it's not clear how heavily subsidised the Phantom hardware will be - with the cost of manufacturing a high-spec PC and licensing costs for Windows possibly making the device as expensive as, well, a real PC. There's also no indication that the system will do any other useful PC-style things, such as allowing users to browse the web, read email or act as a digital video recorder or music jukebox.