Talk of pay-as-you-play services has been around since the internet became mainstream and affordable. Massive multiplayer RPGs certainly showed that with the right business model (and game, obviously), shed-loads of cash can be made through a monthly subscription (see Everquest for an example). The problem is that RPGs are serious investments in time, and lest we forget, are in a pretty niche market.
So what if you could play nearly 1,000 games, spanning all genres from respected publishers, any time you wanted, all for a small monthly fee? Well, step forward Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. With an ambitious plan to deliver a huge library of games direct to you through your broadband connection, Turner hopes to generate loads of money by charging the aforementioned monthly fee, which would grant users unlimited play of any title on the service as and when they wanted to play it.
So where does Sonic come into it? Well, Sega are one of the publishers signed-up and have said that they will be offering games from the Genesis and Saturn consoles. Heck, it would be worth it alone if they supplied and translated the full Shining Force III series. No other confirmed publishers have been made public yet, although it has been indicated that titles from consoles-past will be available (so perhaps Nintendo may figure, although that would be optimistic). For those not au-fait with the murky world of emulation it could be a very valuable service.
Being a US-based company, there is no indication if the service will be tailored or licensed to us Brits as yet, but being based over the web should, in theory, mean that we can access it without issues. We’ll find out more when it launches later this year, but if it is a success do not be surprised if a canny software publisher with plenty of IP launches its own portal in the future (EA, perhaps?).
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