Agawi stepping up to bring indie PC gaming to tablets

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Streaming game service Agawi yesterday announced their new "B2B2C" CloudPlay platform intended to help indie game developers get their titles onto tablets and other mobile devices.

You'll remember long ago Agawi started as iSwifter, an app that allowed running Flash games on iPads. Flash content would actually run on iSwifter's servers and the results would be streamed to the iPad. It was pretty heady stuff back then before the 'cloud gaming' space became so crowded.

In a way, Agawi's new platform 'super sizes' the iSwifter idea. Instead of Flash games, Agawi now supports PC titles, and they promise to do so without any extra effort from game developers.

In the press release announcing the platform, Agawi named-dropped some fairly well known indie game devs: Daedalic (Deponia), NinjaBee (A Kingdom for Kelflings), Neko Entertainment (Puddle) and Or1go Games (A.R.E.S:Extinction Agenda), among others. Agawi wants to stress that these are successful devs that previously haven't had their content on tablets, and that there are more to come.

There's a lot of buzz these days about cloud gaming but we've yet to see it really take off. Onlive seems like it's in a holding pattern, Gaikai was absorbed into the Sony ecosystem and should re-appear next autumn when the PS4 ships, and Nvidia's in-home cloud system is still just a promise on the horizon. Could Agawi be the first cloud gaming service to really grab the public's attention?

I wanted to know more about how this all works so I reached out to Agawi.

First things first: this is a true cloud system. You don't need a local PC to run the games; they'll be running on Agawi's servers. This also means you'll probably need a pretty fast Internet connection but compression technology keeps improving while at the same time broadband speeds increase. Hopefully latency will be a non-issue but it'll no doubt vary on case-by-case basis.

You'll either rent or purchase game titles through the CloudPlay app on your tablet. We'll learn more details about pricing later.

So how will we control these games and what about this claim that there's zero work for the devs? The Agawi CloudPlay app includes "control virtualization tech" that maps a game's native PC controls to either touch gestures or a virtual gamepad. Presumably Agawi will set up this mapping initially; it's not yet clear if end users will be able to tweak controls. Let's hope so.

Agawi wants developers to know they'll be at the "Independent Games Summit at GDC on March 25 and 26 and at booth 131 in the North Hall March 27-29, as well as co-hosting the Indie Games Summit Mixer on March 26 at 5:30pm. Agawi reps will be happy to speak with potential new partners at the conference as well as give demos." Not able to make it to GDC? You can contact Agawi at partners@agawi.io for more information about getting your game onto their platform.

As for us gamers, we'll have to wait a bit longer to learn all the details that are important to us: cost, bandwidth requirements, launch titles and platforms. I did ask Agawi if they'd considered bringing CloudPlay to the Ouya or Gamestick (or some other similar device) but they weren't ready to talk about that yet. Which sounded more encouraging to me than a direct "No."

Here's a video of Agawi Executive Chairman Peter Relan's presentation from the Cloud Gaming Summit that took place in London last month:

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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