|Infinium Labs reported that it’s hired Kevin Bachus as President and Chief Operating Officer. The Florida based start-up announced that his immediate focus will be the launch of the company’s Phantom Gaming Service, a broadband-based gaming system that will provide consumers with video games, games on-demand, game rentals, and other interactive entertainment services. The Phantom has caused the media to term it “vaporware” at best and at worst some sort of scam. It was supposed to launch in September 2003 and the demo at CES never actually had a unit powered up. Though one does note that they got another $US15 Million in funding recently. Infinium has also started trading publicly on the stock market (OTC BB: IFLB) earlier this month – through the acquisition of another publicly traded (but inactive) company – thus avoiding an IPO and a lot of the scrutiny that goes along with it. Though we note that Wall Street still isn’t the happy-happy place for IPO’s it once was. It gets weirder since the SEC filing was not only the first apparent mention of Bachus’ hiring, but also a stealth 5-1 stock split that still has the shares of the company wildly gyrating. This changes the outstanding shares from about 5 million to 25 million, with the two founders holding about 60% of the company. You can read more about it at the HeraldTribune article.
In an interview on GameIndustry.biz, Bachus is brutally honest about the problems of the “vaporware” reputation he’ll have to overcome and how he’s so new to the company he’s still got to find out who the target customers are. It’s a good read. However I still have my doubts about attempting to go up against Sony & Microsoft, particularly when they are poised to demo their new consoles in a GDC timeframe and, according to Bachus, the Phantom’s hardware specs haven’t been finalized yet even though they intend to demo a unit at E3 this year. Still, if anyone can steer the Phantom to production, Bachus probably has the experience. Good luck Kevin.
(For an interesting look at how the Xbox was created/launched, I recommend Dean Takahashi’s book, “Opening the XBox”.)
Data released on Monday by Mercury Research shows that ATI edged out NVIDIA in sales for Q4 2003. The numbers were Intel 31.7%, ATI 24.9%, and NVIDIA 24.7%. ATI increased at Intel & NVIDIA expense. Most of the change was in add-in cards (vs. integrated chip-sets), where ATI has handily been beating NVIDIA. This was quickly followed by Goldman Sachs analyst Andrew Root questioning if NVIDIA can meet is revenue estimates, though he didn’t change his estimates for the company. NVIDIA’s stock price has dropped about 10% this year while ATI’s has increased about the same amount. NVIDIA will host a conference call to discuss its financial results for the fourth quarter and the fiscal year ending January 25, 2004 on February 12, 2004 at 2:00 PM, Pacific Time. The Company’s prepared remarks will be followed by a question and answer period, which will be limited to questions from analysts and institutional investors. To listen to the conference call, dial 706-679-0543; no password is required. The conference call will also be webcast at www.nvidia.com and www.streetevents.com.
As you already know, someone hacked into the Valve offices and stole the HL2 code, prompting a 8-9 month delay in the publishing of HL2. According to some recent articles on Slashdot and HalflifeRadio, the FBI launched a raid on the San Francisco home of programmer Chris Toshok, confiscating various items of hardware and software. Toshok was also questioned by the FBI and Secret Service regarding his association with Hungry Programmers, his ex-house mates. While some of the source code has already shown up on the net, apparently a 2-disc pirated version has found its way onto store shelves in the Russian city of Novosibirsk this month, translated into Russian, but with some gaps in the game. This delay has really screwed up ATI’s million-dollar deal with Valve – particularly the HL2 bundle with the Radeon 9600XT. Many of ATI’s partners are pulling out of the deal, not providing the HL2 copy supposedly included with video card, or just covering over the HL2 mention on the box with a sticker. ATI says;
“Beginning in December board partners had the option of purchasing the bundle from ATI for a small fee with all RADEON 9800 and RADEON 9600 series products except the RADEON 9800 XT which continued to include the bundle without charge. So, there hasn’t been any change in the availability to our partners and they all have the option to continue with the bundle or not”