Local start-up focuses on digital game distribution

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Sarasota often conjures images of retirees, beaches and thesis papers for New College students, but usually nothing relate to technology. While Sarasota Bay is no Silicon Valley, it does have a handful of technology start-up companies. The Catalyst sat down with one of them to learn about what they’re making right here in Sarasota.

Over the last few years video game fans have had even fewer reasons to leave the confines of their game rooms thanks to the growth of services which allow them to download games straight to their computers. The exodus from retail outlets such as GameStop and Wal-Mart to online download services is hitting its stride and GameStreamer is hard at work trying to take things in a different direction.

Instead of having to wait for the entirety of a game to download, GameStreamer users can start playing only after a small amount of a game has been downloaded. The “progressive download” continues in the background and users can play to their heart’s content. While this feature might make many gamers giddy with excitement, GameStreamer is still in the midst of negotiating the implementation of its progressive download technology with video game publishers.

“We have relationships with the publishers and some of our technology does require the publishers to make changes to their games to make our technology happen,” Game Streamer’s public relations, marketing and social media specialist Kendra Gemma explained. “So we haven’t actually implemented that progressive download technology at this moment. We can do it, it’s a matter of getting the publishers on board.”

GameStreamer’s download service also allows users to download their games to as many devices as they’d like. Disc-based PC games usually limit the number of installations, but GameStreamer and other digital distribution services allow installation without onerous restrictions.

“You can access the games that you purchased from us from any connected computer, so that’s really a neat thing. They don’t really live on your desktop,” Gemma said. “So if you have a hardware malfunction or you’re at a different computer somewhere else you can still access the games you purchased from us just by logging in and using your key that we provide for you when you purchase the games.”

What differentiates GameStreamer the most from other digital distributors such as Steam is their “white label” service. While GameStreamer sells games directly to customers through their own website, they also have the ability to make custom web stores for clients. GameStreamer can enter into partnerships with companies who would like to have a store attached to their brand. The GameStreamer team manages relationships with video game publishers and takes a percent of the profit made from their “white label” clients’ sales.

Best of all, GameStreamer stores can be started for free. “If they use one of our templates, there is actually no charge and then we just tweak the revenue sharing so they share a percentage of their sales with us,” Gemma told the Catalyst. “They can choose which games are sold through their store. We have some publishers as well who are Christian-based, so if they don’t want to have a game that they felt was not fitting with their demographics they can choose not to have that game on their site. They can also choose which games are featured on the front page of their store.”

However, If GameStreamer’s partners wish to customize the look and feel of their store however, they’ll have to pay a fee. Each fee is determined on a case-by-case basis and after an assessment of the partner’s needs.

Internet television companies Revision3 and Indy Car are just two businesses who have opened downloadable game stores in partnership with GameStreamer. “Another of our white label partners is Source Interlink Media,” Gemma said. They publish more than 75 magazines and 90 websites. We have built seven game stores for them so far. We have more exciting ones in the works that are about to come out. Big names that we’re excited about that will be released pretty soon.”

“[GameStreamer] was started a couple of years ago, but right now we’re really hitting our stride,” Gemma said. “Our technology and everything is really coming together.”

Despite GameStreamer’s big ambitions, it’s a small company. “Right now in the Sarasota office, we have a very small staff,” Gemma told the Catalyst. The eight people who comprise the Sarasota office range from marketing specialists to coders. “We don’t really have titles here, we don’t believe in them pretty much.”

Although based in Sarasota, GameStreamer has employees in California, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. “Our team is really passionate about building Sarasota as more of a technology hotbed and being on the forefront of that,” Gemma told the Catalyst.

GameStreamer can be visited at gamestreamer.net and at pcgamestore.com.

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