RealTime IT News

Sun Micro, the Phantom Gamer

The co-creator of Microsoft's Xbox is ramping up to launch a new online subscription gaming platform with the help of Sun Microsystems , the companies said.

Former Xbox visionary Kevin Bachus is expected to debut his company Infinium Labs' flagship "Phantom Game Service" sometime in 2005. The service was originally scheduled to debut this fall.

At Sun's JavaOne show this summer, McNealy brought out Bachus to introduce the system and show support of the Java 2 Standard Edition Runtime Environment and Sun's game APIs. Sun has had great success selling Java games on mobile phones. Infinium represents its first major foray into console gaming.

Infinium is offering sign-ups for a two-year basic subscription to Phantom Game Service with the hardware and controllers thrown in for free. The service also requires a broadband connection and a TV monitor. Currently there are 500 different titles, including more than half of the 50 best PC games of all time, as rated by Gamerankings.com, available on the system. Infinium said it is also looking to offer additional titles and premium content packages.

An AMD Athlon XP 2500+ chip with an NVidia GeForce FX 5700 Ultra GPU and an NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400 platform processor powers the console. The system is also controlled by Microsoft Windows XP Embedded Operating System, 256 MB RAM, 40 GB local content cache and is HDTV and Dolby Digital 5.1 compatible.

For the service, Sarasota, Fla.-based Infinium said it had a need for a network and infrastructure that streams content directly to consumer living rooms and settled on Sun's Game Technologies Group after evaluating the on-demand competition.

"Sun's expertise in delivering content from back-end systems to the user will now become one of our biggest assets," Bachus said in a statement. "We can focus on offering consumers choice, convenience and ease of use with our PC and Java-based game service."

The two companies said they plan to embark on a joint marketing program that underscores their shared vision for the video game industry.

"Infinium's mission is in line with Sun's goal to leverage the network as a vehicle to make entertainment content, information and services ubiquitous for consumers, and we want to empower the company to make that happen in the video game arena," Chris Melissinos, chief gaming officer at Sun Microsystems, said in a statement. "We're glad Infinium's direct-to-consumer model furthers our initiative to help developers using Java technology to distribute and sell their games to a wide audience."