California-based Zeebo has unveiled a low-cost videogame console targeted at "the next billion" gamers in developing countries including Brazil and China.
The consoles are designed to download videogame software by means of 3G broadband wireless telecom technology built by Qualcomm, which is among the early investors in Zeebo. Both firms are located in San Diego.
AdvertisementElectronic Arts, Capcom, THQ, Gameloft, Glu, and Namco Networks were among the videogame stalwarts that endorsed the Zeebo console announcement on the opening day of a Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
"We are humbled to have the support of these gaming industry giants," Zeebo chief executive John Rizzo said.
"Content is critical for the launch of any new console platform and with the support from these influential publishers ... we are well on our way to making gaming for the next billion a reality."
Zeebo consoles will have a suggested retail price 199 dollars each when they make their world debut next month in Brazil. The price is expected to drop when the consoles start being shipped to other countries later this year.
Zeebo consoles will be sold with four games embedded and software for a fifth title will be available for free download using built-in wireless connections.
"Zeebo is bringing an innovative console and distribution model to untapped consumer markets with significant potential," said Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter.
"Zeebo provides a solution for a difficult emerging market problem by combining 3G wireless technology with compelling content and a secure business model that addresses the challenges presented by piracy and price sensitivity."
The consoles will connect to a ZeeboNet Wireless Network using 3G broadband wireless cellular services even if users have no service plan with a carrier, according to the company.
"We've had a vision for a wireless videogame console targeted at the special economic and culturally relevant content needs in emerging markets for several years," aid Qualcomm senior director of games and services Mike Yuen.
"We're excited to see Zeebo embark on this ambitious new venture."
Videogame makers endorsing Zeebo say they plan to adapt popular titles to the new console platform.
For example, EA says it will have Zeebo editions of "Need for Speed Carbon" car racing game and a "FIFA 09" soccer title with Portuguese voice-overs.
"The emerging markets of the world have historically presented a very interesting dichotomy between a huge untapped consumer base and a very real piracy issue," said THQ Wireless president Doug Clemmer.
"Zeebo has solved this problem."