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WildTangent unveils 'PC game console' Orb, Sierra and THQ pledge support

Ross Miller

WildTangent announced today Orb, a new PC service aimed to give a game console experience. Orb will act as a portal for "console games," defined here as games designed for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and let you download and play games in its entirety or in play sessions, which will cost you via tokens or free through watching advertisements. THQ and Sierra have signed on, with Sierra promising to bring titles to the service "day and date" with console launches, according to WildTangent CEO Alex St. John.

In an interview with Joystiq, St. John explained how the cost per play session will depend on the game, but that it would be priced "fairly" based on statistics they derive in testing. That said, he presumes most will opt for the advertiser route. (In their casual portal, he said, 98% of the users opt for watching advertisements and playing for free.)

Games can be queued up for download in the background, but there's also an option for taking the games you want to play and having them sent to you for the cost of burning the DVD and shipping. The program will be offered in eight languages, including Chinese and Korean. No community features will included at launch, but St. John said he'd consider it in the future. It's a shame, too, because we think it's a key reason that programs like Steam and GameTap thrive.

The developer version will launch this week, with a consumer version poised for tomorrow. For users of the current WildTangent portal, which largely consists of what St. John calls casual gamers, they will be offered the client free for download when it launches. Orb will also be packaged with Dell and HP computers. Orb will be officially unveiled during a session tomorrow at GDC. We'll have more from our interview with St. John later this week.

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