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The Future of GoD

Is there such a thing as true on-demand game playing? Exent is betting on it.

Although online game playing has been gaining traction ever since the Internet met the average office worker, there are several companies that want to refine it to get more people into the game. One of the most ambitious is Bethesda-based Exent, which has developed a platform for game development that creates true on-demand game playing. The company’s vice president of products & market strategy, Yoav Tzruya, answers some game-filled questions and gives us a peek at what’s ahead.

What’s involved in the games-on-demand world?

GoD, or games-on-demand, is a general term relating to PC or console games that are delivered through the Internet, enabling the user to consume games, on an on-demand basis, anywhere, anytime, on any machine. In essence, GoD saves users from having to go to the store and purchase a physical copy of the game, or order a game online but wait for physical delivery. The term is used for various types of service business models, primarily subscription, but also rental, purchase, and try-before-you-buy.

How is your company’s platform different?

Exent-powered GoD, unlike other service or technology providers who use the term, is truly “on-demand.” Some other services only offer game downloads, while Exent technology enables true subscription-based or rental gaming, providing an on-demand, real-time user experience and console-like instantaneous gratification and game-play.

How does the platform work and how is it different from buying games at a store?

Exent-powered GoD is delivered through our EXEtender platform, which streams the game or application to the end-user’s computer. After a short initial buffering of the game, the user can begin to play. In essence, a click-and-play experience. This is important, because most PC games are very large, and take a long time to download. EXEtender preserves all the original game features, and runs locally on the user’s device, but does not actually install the game on the user’s computer.

Why wouldn’t gamers just buy a game in a store? Why would they want the on-demand gaming you describe?

GoD service differs from buying a game in a store in several very important ways. The first is cost. A typical “all-you-can-eat” subscription to a gaming service costs about $15 per month. Specialized packages, such as a kids’ package, or a game genre package, cost even less. GoD services can include well over 100 games.

Contrast this with purchasing a single game in a store. There, a single game can cost over $50, this pays for about 40 hours of gaming experience. Think how many games and how many hours you can play online for that price.

Another consideration is the user experience. Who is the electronic retail store’s target audience? Typically, young males. The experience of going into a specialty store can be very intimidating if you are not in the target demographic. You may be inundated with images you don’t relate to. What if you don’t know what game you want? How about if you did get a game recommendation, or know what you want, and you get home and find out your computer doesn’t actually meet the game’s minimum requirement? What if you just don’t like the game? You’ve still spent your $50.

With a subscription-based GoD service, you can try out games, play a variety of games, participate in online communities, chat and get recommendations. No risk, and a lot of reward. This means the novice or casual gamer can enjoy games too, not only the hardcore gamer who is hooked into the gaming “world.”

In addition, EXEtender resolves any hardware/software conflicts–you know in advance which games your system supports.

Tell us why a gamer would want to install the EXEtender player.

After installation of the EXEtender player, which is the games interface, you never have to go through any installation processes for the games you play. At the same time, you get the exact same experience and features that you would if you had the CD installed in your system.

Exent-powered GoD services can offer games of any size, from small games to multi-gigabyte games, in any genre, including kid/family, educational, first-person shooter, action, adventure, strategy, sports, and more. Everyone in the household can enjoy, all within a single subscription.

There is also availability to think about. Typically, stores keep games on the shelf for a relatively brief time, approximately 3 months. GoD services are able to offer the entire back-catalog of a publisher’s games, as well as new hit titles. This way, users can always find their old favorites, or try new things.

Who are your competitors?

We don’t think we have any direct competition in the games space–our product and services are innovative and unique. In a broader sense, we compete with other broadband services like video-on-demand (VoD) and music services for subscribers. Data from published studies suggests that games-on-demand services perform up to 3 times better than other value added services, such as VoD. For example, GoD services reach a penetration rate of 3 percent of all broadband subscribers at a broadband service provider within 12 months after launching, while VoD typically reaches around 1 percent.

Have you seen a growth in interest for on-demand gaming?

Absolutely. GoD is fast becoming the value-added service of choice for broadband service providers. But it is not limited to them. Consumer portals like Yahoo and game publishers like Atari are beginning to recognize the value of GoD, not to mention retailers and Internet cafe chains.

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