Virgin Games has announced a new digital distribution and community gaming service, telling Gamesindustry.biz that the technology could effectively create a secure PC games rental market.
Based on proprietary streaming technology, the new service negates the need for broadband connection and large file downloads by stripping games down to their core components and streaming content from dedicated host servers.
Speaking to Gamesindustry.biz, Virgin Games' chairman, Simon Burridge, stated: "There's never been a rental market for PC games yet, because of the ease with which people can hack into them."
"This service will, for the first time, provide a readily accessible rental market for publishers because consumers never have the full game downloaded onto their PC - it makes it virtually impossible to hack."
Targeting both casual and hardcore gamers, Virgin's new service will feature titles across multiple genres, from FPS and strategy games to sports, role-playing and casual skill-based offerings.
All games will be available with multiple payment options including pay-per-play, games-on-demand rental and direct purchase, and the company is planning to host numerous multiplayer tournaments and competitions both purely for fun and with the opportunity to win cash prizes.
In terms of the actual content for the service and the specific titles which will be made available, there's nothing to report at this time except that "premium content negotiations are well under way."
Virgin is currently working closely with several major publishers to secure content deals, allowing for the monetisation of back catalogue titles as well as providing original and potentially exclusive games for the new service.
"At the moment we're focusing on building the platform and discussing content deals with several publishing companies," Burridge stated.
"It's early days yet, but we do have a lot of support so far and negotiations are going very well," he added.
The company hopes to launch its new service, which will run alongside the successful online casual games and prize-play website, in the second quarter of 2007. Further announcements on new content deals and the evolution of the streaming technology platform are expected shortly.