The latest Stinger Report (Issue #618) finishes up coverage on ATEI from last month and with it plenty of great information, including news of a relatively new developer from Italy that has created a PC-based arcade system that is based on an open source development system known as the ELF Integrated Scripting System which is suppose to facilitate development. I decided to take a look at their site and it appears that they are on track to make an impression on the industry although time will tell whether the platform will acheive substantial market penetration or not. According to the site the platform should be available worldwide but it is unclear as to which channels it will be available. Their site features most information in both English and Italian and according to TSR they plan on offering 10 games through their PlayON platform by the end of the year. We also get a look at a couple of different cabinet configurations, such as the one pictured above and in the thumbnail to the left (which is from ATEI 2008).
One game, Tunnel Racer(pictured at the top) is already complete and four other games, Metal Daemons (a 1-0n-1 fighter), Lucky Turkey (“a fast paced cartoon style shooter”), SuperBall Soccer Boy (2D sports) and Project Aurelio (unknown) have been announced and are in development. From the hardware specs the platform is capable of producing good graphics on a Linux based platform that currently includes an AMD Athlon 64 3200+ CPU, 2GB of RAM, an nVidia 7300GT w/ 512MB of RAM and 5.1 surround sound with the promise of upgradeability (not unlike other arcade PC platforms). From the image of the hardware it also appears that the platform also includes a JAMMA connector but that isn’t listed in the specifications. Games are loaded via USB jump drives that require a security SmartCard (that comes with the USB Drive) to install. This combined with the free development kit promises a relatively cheap platform that can bring a wide-variety of games to an arcade environment.
I like the ideathat Play-ON has and it fulfills something that some arcade operators desire – a cheap, easy-to-use platform that offers variety and many new games can be created for the market, almost like XNA with Xbox Live Arcade. The obstacles will be availability of the platform (if they offered it in kit form that would make it even better), overall cost and the quality of the games. Both us and The Stinger Report will be keeping an eye on these guys and their future developments.