Vikas Gupta, CEO of TransGaming, chats about the imminent launch of its GameTree TV platform, its SDK program for developers, and why it supports the Independent Games Festival
Q: Vikas, For those readers who aren't familiar with it, what is your GameTree TV platform – and how does it differ from other digital gaming services, like OnLive?
Vikas Gupta: GameTree TV is a brand new videogames on-demand platform for the next-generation connected living room. We are building an entire gaming eco-system that is going to allow consumers who have an Intel-based next-generation box – such as a set-top box or a Smart TV – to be able to access videogames through a highly user-friendly interface with a variety of flexible business model options in order to access gaming for the broad family demographic.
Q: GameTree is live – or still in the planning stage?
Gupta: Because we're working directly with cable operators, OEMs, and CE manufacturers on their next-generation devices, it's not live yet. We expect it to be commercially deployed in Q1 2011.
Q: I'm assuming the games are what most people refer to as "casual" or "social" games as opposed to hardcore?
Gupta: Yes, and that's one of the differentiations we have with OnLive. When you think about who the cable operators' customers are, the best definition is the broad family demographic. So we're putting together a really good portfolio of content that has broad appeal to everybody in the family unit as both immersive and snackable entertainment. We really believe that the hardcore gaming market is already over-served, so we're not going after that market. We will have casual content, social games, MMOGs, free-to-play games, and so on.
The other differentiation from OnLive is that we are downloading the content from the cloud directly to the device as opposed to streaming content. What that allows us to do is completely predict and optimize the performance of the game because we know what that hardware looks like. And it enables us to integrate very tightly with the operator and be complementary to TV viewing. So, for example, if you are watching a TV show and there happens to be a corresponding game associated with that TV show, the operator can pop up a little widget as the show's credits roll that says "You can play XYZ game now to continue the experience." And then, with a single click, you are transitioned from the TV show to the game. It's a seamless transition – no switching of inputs, no changing of devices, no plugging in peripherals. It's all being done on exactly the same platform that you've been using to watch TV. How powerful is that?
Q: Are you currently encouraging indie developers to build games for the GameTree platform?
Gupta: Absolutely. That's one of the reasons we're supporting the Independent Games Festival at GDC 2011. We are a sponsor and we are going to be initiating and publicly launching a GameTree TV development competition very soon as well. We believe that the indie games community has exhibited an incredible amount of innovation and creativity...and we're trying to give them the opportunity to access a great platform that ultimately gets their games into the biggest consumer audience possible.
Q: If I'm an indie developer and I want to get involved in GameTree, what do I do now?
Gupta: The best thing to do is go to our Web site and click on our SDK. We have two programs. One is where developers can download the SDK completely for free – and it comes with a whole variety of tools, one of which is also an emulator – and they can start to build their game or adapt an existing game using the technology that we provide. And then, using the emulator, they can fully test the game and start to optimize it. The second program involves becoming part of the authorized GameTree TV developer program which means that they've got to submit a little more information, we then review their application, and then – if they meet our criteria – we approve them. As part of the approval process, they will get direct technical support from us as well as the actual hardware with the right software stack so they can then take their game and start to build it or optimize it specifically on the hardware that GameTree TV is going to be deployed on.
Q: What is your rev share model?
Gupta: Our business model is a revenue share between the operator, TransGaming, and the game developer. We're not disclosing the rev share numbers just yet. We'll become more public about that next year as we start to put together some more of our marketing information. Developers, however, can contact us and get more information. We certainly encourage that.
Q: I understand that GameTree TV is only available in Europe. Are there plans to launch in the U.S. and in other markets?
Gupta: Yes, our initial set of launches will take place in Europe and that is because Europe is an early adopter when it comes to next-generation technology. There's a lot of competition in the cable space in Europe – unlike in North America where cable operators get a certain territory which gives them a monopoly within that territory. So cable operators in Europe really have to fight hard and they have to differentiate themselves because, if they don't, consumers have the option to leave them and go to their competitor. That, coupled with the array of other forms of competition that take the consumer away from the television, compel operators to make their own offering more palatable.
But the U.S. cable community is watching the Europeans very closely, and we do believe that by mid- to late-2011, we're going to see GameTree come to North America as well.
This article was originally published on the UBM Techweb Game Network and can be found here. Article and photos are copyright the original authors.