Feeds

Qualcomm startup punts '4th game console' for developing nations

Beating piracy with wireless distribution

Application security programs and practises

GDC 09 A California-based startup backed by Qualcomm is launching a 3G-enabled home game console for emerging markets using hardware normally intended for high-end smartphones.

Zeebo unveiled what it describes as the industry's "fourth console platform" today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The company hopes to tap into new game markets like Brazil, Russia, China, and India, where low incomes and rampant piracy have kept most major console makers out.

Speaking at GDC, Zeebo's CEO Jon Rizzo said the console is a complete copy-protected, piracy-protected environment — which is the first hurdle to attracting game publishers to making localized, culturally relevant titles for the regions.

The Zeebo console uses Qualcomm's mobile MSM chipset and BREW developer platform to push budget game titles though a pre-paid, digital distribution model which includes plenty of phoning home to make sure the software that's running is legit.

Zeebo is scheduled to debut for about $200 in Brazil next week and will later head to Mexico, Eastern Europe, India in 2010, and China in 2011. Rizzo said the device will undercut the major consoles which have jacked up their hardware prices in emerging markets to counter scant software profits due to piracy. For instance, the Wii costs about $1,000 if you bought it legally in Argentina, according to Rizzo.

The system is about the size of a Nintendo Wii with graphics somewhere between a PS1 and PS2. Zeebo packs a 528MHz ARM 11 processor — the same CPU found in phones like Sony Ericsson's Xperia X1 and T-Mobile's Android G1 phone. Graphics is handled by a Qualcomm Adreno 130 integrated graphics core.

The system includes 1GB internal NAND flash memory (enough for 50 games), 128MB of DDR SDRAM, a gamepad, three USB 2.0 ports, and an SD slot. Max screen resolution is 640x480.

The game will launch with four pre-embedded games (FIFA 09, Need for Speed Carbon, Brain Challenge, and Prey Evil) and offer a free download of Quake. Digital downloads through the company's ZeeboNet 3G network is the only way content will be offered. There will be 15 games available on launch day, and 30 games within the first 90 days, according to Rizzo.

Zeebo will attempt to lure customers away from piracy by charging about $12 per game — around $2 more than the average game sold on the grey market. Each download must be prepaid before being authorized, and the game only will work with the user's unique subscription and console ID. Local partners will decide which games go on the console.

Publisher's that have already signed on include Namco, THQ, Capcom, EA, Activision, and ID Software. Rizzo hopes others will be attracted to Zeebo's minimal development costs and marketing requirements along with a promise of quashing piracy on the console. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Microsoft confirms secret Surface will never see the light of day
Microsoft's form 8-K records decision 'not to ship a new form factor'
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.