More Phantom Details

More Phantom Details

The recent announcements regarding Phantom, a new gaming console, have caused much debate in the industry with many analysts even suggesting that the whole project may be Vaporware. New details emerging from Newsforge however, not only indicate that Phantom is on track but claim that as much as USD 25 million of venture capital is placed were its mouth should be. The new information on Phantom did not restrict itself on financial figures but also provides a basic idea about how the console will actually function.

For a mere USD 400 owners will get a 2GHz Mini-ATX PC with a wireless keyboard, mouse, and game controller. The box will basically be a Windows XP running PC with a difference. The difference being the lack of a CD or Floppy drive and of any access to the hard drive and the use of a proprietary encryption scheme for data stored on that hard drive. Phantom therefore, could also be called a copyright protection device.

Owners will pay a subscription fee, estimated at about USD 9.95 in order to maintain a dedicated connection to Infinium Lab servers which will provide the content for their console. Any opening of the external case or tampering of the Phantom would immediately place the owner in violation of the terms of the agreement with Infinium Labs.

According to Infinium CEO, Tim Roberts at least 500 game publishers have exhibited strong interest in the distribution model and although he does not wish to reveal any names he does use the word Unreal a lot when talking about that. The biggest worry of those developers and the reason why something similar has not been set-up earlier is the fear that once downloaded, games will fall prey to various hackers who will crack the console's encryption. In order to minimize such risks Infinium Labs have recruited consultants that are considered to be security gurus such as Bunny Huang. According to Roberts however, even if some way to access the hard drive was developed the use of the hack would be restricted to few individuals while most users would be happy to access games legitimatly.

In order to compliment the Phantom and to ease the blow of the required subscription fee, Infinium Labs plan to offer a vast number of game trial versions, content and to promote new developers.

According to Infinium Labs the secret lies in the fact that everything will be run from their servers. No modification or tampering will be allowed to access those servers meaning that such attempts would be of little use to hackers.

Although interesting as a concept and apparently popular with developers, Phantom has a lot of problems ahead of it. For starters, even if everything goes as planned the company will need at least 750,000 to a million subscribers, at USD 9.95 a month in order to start turning a profit. Then you have the issue of finding enough ISP's willing to provide the dedicated broadband connection for just that amount. Then there is the need to offer big titles at a much better price than anywhere else. Now add to that the need to advertise through the content, the possibility of getting a few hostile publishers and commission fees and you have a pretty long and arduous road before Phantom makes it to the market place.
Another issue is that of advertising, how do you market a product which may also be described as You buy the console. You buy the games. Then you pay to play the games you bought on the console you bought. It's sort of like buying an arcade game but still having to put quarters in. And ads.

Infinium Labs however, are not troubled by such criticism and are pushing ahead. Beta testing is set to begin this fall with the company looking for 300-400 testers. We want beta testers who are hackers and crackers who will try everything to get around our security, Roberts told Newsforge. You can find the link for the test sign-up site by following the download tab above, but bear in mind that 17,000 people have already applied.