Will Israel’s ‘Playcast’ Revolutionize Video Game Industry?

By Tiffany Stelman, NoCamels May 21, 2012 Comments

Israeli Digital Gaming Company Playcast Leading The Shift In Gaming Industry

In 2010, consumers in the United States alone spent approximately $15.5 billion dollars on games content. This number might seem staggering, and yet it is in sharp decline.

This decline is due in part to the shift in our general approach to entertainment content. When it comes to movies, for example, we’ve turned to Youtube, or video-on-demand, instead of purchasing a DVD. Yet game consoles like the Xbox or Playstation still force us to buy games.

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Leading the way towards a significant shift in the gaming industry is Israeli company Playcast. The company’s technology enables cable and satellite television companies to offer the latest games without the need to buy an expensive console or the games themselves, much like your video-on-demand service. The games almost equal the quality of console games, but only require registering for the service and a remote. This new technology is known as “cloud gaming.”

Elad Dror, VP Solutions at Playcast, tells NoCamels:  “As in a VOD channel, all users do is subscribe to the Playcast service for a monthly fee and choose the package that is most relevant to their tastes and gaming.”

Earlier this year Playcast signed an agreement with French carrier Bouygues Telecom SA for its Bbox IPTV subscribers, who will pay monthly subscription fees to use any of the latest games. Playcast also has similar agreements with Portugal Telecom SA and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.

The games are located on a designated channel where Playcast’s portal operates, which offers different game packages, updated every month.

“Cloud gaming not replacing consoles”

Dror tells NoCamels that “cloud gaming is not here to replace consoles, but is a necessary step in the evolution of video games.”

The company’s employees, he says, “are first and foremost game lovers who respect the place of game consoles and see them as part of the world of gaming.”

Dror said it wasn’t easy to overcome the challenge of streaming the games instantaneously. While streaming video content is like a one way traffic, video games require real-time two-way traffic. “This means that video data needs to flow back and forth at zero delay,” Dror says.

But Guy de Beer, CEO of Playcast, said that while video processing experts might notice a slight reduction in quality compared to consoles, regular users will not.

Playcast is currently working on creating a more seamless interaction between gaming and social networking.  Dror says this can mean finding your friends and inviting them to multi-player sessions, uploading brag clips to YouTube, etc.

Conquering the home market

The privately-held company is based in Israel and has operations in seven Western European markets, as well as  Singapore, Korea, China, Brazil and the US. According to Dror, it enjoys a steady stream of revenue from its deployments in Europe and Asia. “However, since Playcast is still in the expansion stage – both in terms of R&D and commercially,” he adds, “we are moving on to new territories raising additional funds.”

Playcast, founded in 2007, has one more gaming country it wants to conquer: Israel. “We expect the service to launch in our home market towards the end of this year or in early 2013,” Dror says.

Playcast has so far raised $12.7 million. Investors include Jerusalem Venture Parners and Xenia Venture Capital. The company has 40 employees located in Caesarea, Israel.

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