TC50's plaYce Launches Real-World, 3D Game Platform as a Service (500 Invites)


plaYce which showcased at last year’s Techcrunch50 is today announcing the beta launch of its Game-Platform-as-a-Service, aimed at assisting game developers bring high-quality 3D game play right into the browser. Games in plaYce are based on 3D renderings of real cities such as San Francisco and New York.

500 private beta invites for both users and developers are available exclusively to TechCrunch readers here.

Casual games on the Web are quite bland when compared to “Tripple-A Games”—high budget titles typically produced by game studios such as EA. The type of games developed and/or distributed by the likes of Zynga, SGN, Kongregate or Oberon just don’t cut it for “real” gamers which are used to superior high-quality game play and graphics.

plaYce tackles this matter by allowing high-quality games to be streamed into the browser. The company claims it delivers quick-engagement by initiating play within a minute for games ranging from 300MB up to a few gigabytes in size. Granted, that is indeed quite a bit of time to wait for a game to load, however, the game quality is in a different league than the quality of current casual games (see the video embedded at the end of the post). Users are required to install a 7.7MB plug-in (the “plaYce player”) in order to play games utilizing plaYce’s technology. IE & Firefox are supported on PCs, with Linux and Mac coming soon I’m told.

plaYce is targeting independent game developers who will be able to port existing games or build new ones from scratch. The company’s Game-Platform-as-a-Service includes:

  • Game Streaming – Where the user’s current and predicted point of view in the game define what piece of data needs to be upload to the client.
  • Graphics Engine – In-browser complex rendering including soft shadows, shaders, lights, particle effects, etc.
  • Game Arenas – Currently San Francisco, Manhattan and a few large open terrain areas, with two major European cities and Hong Kong on the way. Game developers can also model 3D arenas in any standard 3D modeling tool and then import it. Game arenas that “float in space” are also supported.
  • Facebook & OpenSocial Integration – Allows users to import friends into games.
  • Micro transaction & Virtual Goods – Game developers will be able to implement these in any game.
  • In-game advertising – Provided through Massive and Double Fusion.
  • Services – Game lobby, security, asset management, quality of service.

Like any technology there are “performance envelops”… Game developers will have to be aware that the scenes are streamed and that there are hardware considerations (CPU, graphics card, etc.). Developers should also be aware that the plaYce API is written in C++, with the next version supporting Lua.

The company’s business model will be based on micro-transactions, virtual goods, in-game ads, and rev-share with game developers. Developers will not be charged for the use of the platform.

plaYce is showcasing its technology with Downtown Defender, a game it developed itself (it does not plan to enter the game production business). The company describes the game as:

Downtown Defender brings the game mechanics of “Desktop Tower Defense” and the emotion of a realistic, giant monster movie into a tight, high impact experience. Using a Black Hawk Military helicopter, players will defend San Francisco from waves of massive creatures by dropping powerful gun turrets into strategic positions. Players will also need to rescue people on the ground from being eaten alive. The more people the player collects, the greater man power they will have for their turrets.

Here’s a video of the game play: