Game developers looking for a new way to get their work in front of large audiences may soon have a new tool that could allow them to bypass the restrictive and risk-averse world of retailers.
A new service, known as InstantAction, is set to officially launch Tuesday. It aims to free developers, both inside and outside big publishers, from the traditional distribution constraints of selling PC- or console-based games.
The idea behind InstantAction is to provide developers with an end-to-end process for putting their games online, making them browser-based and making it possible for players to easily join their friends' games at any time, without the need for a proprietary service like Microsoft's Xbox Live.
And unlike the growing number of casual games, 2D virtual worlds, and Flash-based virtual-world platforms, InstantAction promises to support complete versions of just about any full-scale, or AAA, game a publisher wants to make available online. Brett Sayler, vice president of technology for InstantAction, said the service offers the first high-quality 3D games on the Web.
While the service's technology could, in theory, support a game like "World of Warcraft" or any number of titles from a publisher like Electronic Arts, it's more likely that, in the early going, at least, the service would be utilized by less-established publishers.
"The people this would likely appeal to are major publishers and game developers who," said Sayler, "are unsatisfied with the gaming-(distribution) options available right now."
Good match for Atari? As a hypothetical example, Sayler pointed to Atari, which, in its current iteration--wholly owned by Infogrames, it is not the high-flying company it once was--has struggled to find substantial traction with retailers and consumers.
"Atari is a well-known brand with good (titles)," Sayler said, "fighting a losing battle at retail."
Working with InstantAction, Sayler said, still speaking hypothetically, Atari could make some or all of its games available to consumers via the Web in a matter of months, bypassing big-box retailers and game-centric franchises in the process and, therefore, being able to concentrate more on building its games.
Another advantage that InstantAction offers its partners, Sayler said, is browser-based. Because the games are played--and authenticated--through a Web browser, they are intended to be much harder, if not impossible, to pirate, meaning that publishers can stop worrying about digital rights management. That, said Sayler, is something that has bedeviled PC game makers. … Read more