So what is Playcast? It's a cloud gaming service streaming through set-top boxes, tablets, smartphones and PCs – basically, anything that can run Android 4.0 and higher.
Playcast offers unlimited streaming of games through subscription packages tailored to particular users – right now in France, there is a package for more casual gamers and a plus package aimed at the more hardcore.
VP of research and development Yuval Noimark showed me a variety of configurations for the service during a meeting yesterday. If Playcast has a deal with your television provider, you could turn on a certain channel, plug in a USB game pad and log in. If you wanted to play on your Android tablet, it's as simple as jumping to a website; or you could hook up the tablet to your TV and use a bluetooth controller for a large-screen experience. Or you could simply hook up a PC to your television set and play that way, or directly through your PC.
Because Playcast is aiming more towards what Noimark calls the "mid-core" market – a segment of consumers who enjoy gaming but aren't going online in their favorite shooter every day – Playcast is also keen on making sure touch interfaces are a viable control method. Noimark showed me Lego Batman on a tablet, a game designed with controllers in mind, and demonstrated how Playcast will emulate its own heads-up display over the game to provide touch controls. It was as responsive and viable a control scheme as any controller, I found.
The real cool stuff happens when using multiple devices, however. If you're playing on your TV through a PC or set-top box, you can use your phone or tablet as a controller – Playcast will instantly recognize your activity when you sign in with the auxiliary device. You can even create your own skins for your touch-device, customizing the look and layout of the interface.
Noimark couldn't tell me specifically when Playcast would launch in the United States, nor would he disclose exact subscription options and pricing structure. The company is currently in talks with television providers and, as for games, Playcast already has deals with Activision, Telltale Games, Warner Bros., THQ and Codemasters in place. Playcast is also looking to get indies on board and, according to Noimark, the company is currently in talks with numerous developers.
We should know more about the launch of Playcast in the United States the week of the Consumer Electronics Show, which takes place in Las Vegas from January 8 until the 11th.