Cloud gaming comes to Singapore

If the cost of gaming hardware and titles is stopping you from making it a hobby, a new Web service could be your salvation.

According to Asia One News, yesterday was the launch of SingTel’s subscription-based cloud gaming service called ESC (pronounced Escape) with London-headquartered technology partner Playcast Media.


ESC lets gamers play high-quality games over the Internet, also known as the cloud, on low-powered desktop computers that have at least the Pentium 4 chip.


SingTel also has a set-top box for its fiber-optic excite TV service, so you will be able to play the games streamed to your TV set as well.


To enjoy ESC, SingTel recommends broadband speeds of 10Mbps and above. But those who are on a 10Mbps connection might experience issues if other users at home try to access high-speed applications online.


ESC is not only for those with SingTel Internet connections. Customers that have a StarHub or M1 line, for example, can also subscribe.


For $1.99 a day or $9.99 a month, gamers can get unlimited access to all of the games available on ESC. Next month there will be a bundle deal of ESC with a SingTel 50Mbps fiber broadband plan that will be available for $66.90.


As of now, 24 games are available, which include fighting game Street Fighter IV, first-person shooter Frontlines: Fuel of War, action title Toy Story 3: The Video Game, and casual game Chameleon Gems. SingTel wants to add two to three titles each month.


The games are streamed over the Internet in standard definition, such as a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. That’s pretty decent, but most consumers care about how much definition they are getting.

They will be slightly disappointed, because there are no plans in the works to offer games in high definition resolution, like 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. That’s because SingTel plans to enhance other aspects of ESC first.

For example, it will add online multiplayer for ESC next month, and it is working on reducing any lag, or delays, that consumers might experience with ESC.

SingTel’s chief executive for Singapore, Mr. Allen Lew, said that the telecom is moving into the gaming business because it wants to be a multimedia company. That means you got to have more than just puny music and foolish TV. They have added games to build up their multimedia credibility.

Another reason they added the games is because more SingTel customers are playing games at home and on the go. There’s a lot of money to be made off of people who like digital diversions.

With ESC, SingTel wants to take 20 per cent of the game software market in Asia, worth more than $50 million annually, based on the telecom’s research. ESC’s main target audience is casual gamers.

Cloud-gaming is getting big people, really big. Examples of other providers of this service include OnLive and Gaikai in the United States and Japanese firm G-cluster.