A startup company called Antstream has launched a crowdfunding campaign for a game streaming service with a difference: It is to focus exclusively on retro titles, with a claimed 2,000 licences already snapped up for launch.
Founded by vintage gaming enthusiast Steve Cottam and boasting Ian Livingstone, life president of Eidos Interactive and a name not unfamiliar to gamers, as its chair, Antstream is the latest in the latest round of companies hoping to strike it rich on the cloud gaming market. Like its rivals, Antstream pledges to allow gaming on a variety of devices by doing the heavy computational lifting on remote servers and streaming the result to the end user - but where most cloud gaming services currently focus on bringing high-end triple-A titles to low-power devices, Antstream instead looks to make it easier to get into retro gaming with games ranging from The Last Ninja and Zool to Gods and California Games.
While Antstream the company has been operating for around five years, Antstream the service traces its origins back to a bedroom project by Steve Cottam started in 2008. He's brought along a few big names for the ride, too: As well as Livingstone, staff at the company include co-founders of Playdemic and TT Games, the former chief executive of Sega Europe, and developers, composers, and writers who worked on the original games themselves.
Initially, Antstream will launch on Windows, macOS, Xbox, and Android devices, the company has claimed, with other platforms - including iOS and PlayStation 4 - to follow in due course. Like the majority of its competition, the platform will be an all-you-can-eat service giving access to all the games - some 2,000 licensed so far, Cottam claims, though only 400 will be ready for launch - for a yet-to-be-announced monthly or yearly fee. For those backing the crowdfunding campaign, access begins at a £28 pledge level for six months or £40 for one year plus early access rising to £43 when the early-backer pledges expire in the next twelve or so hours. Other pledge levels include £55 for a one-year subscription which fixes the price for the lifetime of the subscription; £95 for two years with an even-lower fixed price; and a £235 pledge level which provides lifetime access at no extra charge. There's also an option to add your own homebrew title to Antstream, complete with revenue sharing, though oddly this requires you to pay the company for the privilege rather than the other way around.
Other features of the service include 'Challenges', Antstream's version of Achievements or Trophies, which includes the ability to challenge friends. With the platform already mostly functional - though not yet optimised for mobile devices - early access backers are expected to be able to start using it from the end of May with a beta in the summer and a public launch by the end of the year.
May 15 2020 | 11:00