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Gizmondo Launches in August

21 Jul, 2005 By: John Gaudiosi

Gizmondo portable game device

On the heels of its U.K. launch, Tiger Telematics will ship its portable entertainment device, Gizmondo, in the United States Aug. 11. The multimedia game player ships with a built-in digital camera, Internet capability, messaging and a GPS device at $399. A separate device with built-in advertising through Smart-Adds will sell for $229.

“Smart-Adds clips will run for roughly 20 seconds to 30 seconds, and then a barcode or coupon will appear along with mapping directions on how to get to the retailer's nearest location,” said Mike Morgan, VP of global sales and marketing for Gizmondo. “Plus, there also will be downloadable previews of music, movies and other special offers exclusive to Gizmondo.”

The U.S. launch will see 15 to 20 games — mostly first-party titles from Gizmondo — at $20 to $40 each; 100 games are expected for the system by year's end. Gizmondo sold some 560,000 devices in Europe through preorders, he said.

Several video game analysts hadn't seen the device, and those who did aren't high on the machine.

“I can't see the Gizmondo making an impact in the portable game sector,” said Billy Pidgeon, video game analyst for Go Play Research. “The first-party games are not system sellers, and third-party publishers are unlikely to support the Gizmondo without significant hardware penetration.”

Like the PSP, Gizmondo plays music and movies. Morgan said the company is in negotiations with movie studios to provide content for Gizmondo, which uses blue 64MB SD cards for games, music and movies. He also expects to partner with a movie downloading company, as gamers are able to download music and movies from their PC to Gizmondo.

Technology will be a key selling point for this device. Game developers are integrating the camera, Gyroscope and GPS into gameplay. In addition to importing a picture of a player's face into a game, the camera can recognize real-world symbols and images and transport them into the game experience. The GPS will allow a gamer to play a role-playing game and have the current time of day and weather directly impact the game. The Gyroscope will let players tilt the Gizmondo to control the perspective in a first-person shooter.

Gizmondo has a 2.8-inch screen. It runs on Windows CE and is capable of playing Windows Media Player-formatted MPEG4 movies, games and music (MP3s) and supports Bluetooth for wireless gaming.

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