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Infinium to bring game rental downloads to Europe

New broom, but same old story?

Interview Infinium Labs' plan to target "yesterday's gamers" with its long-promised console/online game rental service will involve a European roll-out the company revealed this week.

Speaking to The Register yesterday, CEO Kevin Bacchus and European MD Greg Koler remained tight-lipped on the service's launch window here - and, for that matter, when it will appear in the US. However, both indicated the European roll-out will come hot on the heels of the US debut.

Bacchus, who assumed Infinium's CEO position a couple of weeks ago after company founder Tim Roberts stepped down to focus on his role as chairman, said the updated Phantom console - tweaked in the months since last November's aborted launch to incorporate the latest developments in PC technology - and the Phantom Game Service that powers it, are almost ready for launch.

It's going to arrive "sooner rather than later", Bacchus pledged.

Infinium watchers will say they've heard that before, most notably in the run-up to the planned November 2004 debut. Come the day, and neither Phantom component shipped. Bacchus insists the hardware and the online service it connects to were ready to go. The decision to delay, he said, was the result of a number of factors: funding limitations, the lack of a direct competitive threat and the room the delay provided to take some time to update the hardware.

Certainly, no-one else appears to be pursuing the same goal: to make it easy for ex-gamers and casual players to play and, crucially, spend money on titles they would not otherwise buy, either through insufficient interest or insufficient time. Hardcore PC gamers may be shocked at the hardware's relatively low spec., console buffs by a games catalogue that may sound behind the times, though Bacchus insists he's going to have up-to-the-minute A-class titles too. But they're not the target audience.

Bacchus' goal is to bring people back to the games market, not serve those who already invest significant amounts of time and money upon on gaming. He maintains the company's survey-led research shows there's a business here, maybe not one on the level of Xbox, PlayStation of PC, but a money maker nonetheless. That, at least, is the idea.

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