A look at DISCover: Part One
Digital Interactive Systems Corporation (DISC) is a new company with a different take on PC Gaming. Rather than having the PC in a den or basement, they are looking to bring PC Gaming into the living room with their DISCover Engine, a technology that will allow manufacturers to create easy to use PC Consoles. In the first of a three part series Charles and John talked to Curtis Kaiser, the Director of Marketing at DISCover about their new technology
GamingNexus: How did you come up with the idea for the DISCover Engine?
Curtis Kaiser: When CD-ROM became the standard for multimedia products, Avraham DorEl, the inventor of the DISCover technology, recognized that the computer monitor wasn’t the appropriate platform for entertain¬ment products, which are designed to be viewed on a tele¬vision set. He recog¬niz¬ed that PC games needed a home entertainment device, a PC Game Console, as their platform. Mr. DorEl patented the DISCover system as a way to play unmodified PC games without the hassles often associated with PC game installation and operation.
GamingNexus: What market are you targeting with this technology?
Curtis Kaiser: DISCover's business plan is to partner with consumer electronics and PC manufacturers to let them target their specific markets with products featuring DISCover technology. For example, Apex provides consumer electronics technology to families at mass-market prices in major retail stores. They will be hitting their market with the ApeXtreme. Alienware's market has typically been high-end gamers who demand the highest hardware performance. Alienware will be reaching that high-end market and expanding it into the living room with the Alienware DHS featuring DISCover. We may partner with additional consumer electronics firms to create units such as a console designed specifically for children and a console which is also a part of a high-end home audio receiver system.
GamingNexus: Can you explain how the DISCover engine works?
Curtis Kaiser: The DISCover engine works by recognizing the game disc inserted into the console. Once it recognizes the disc (if it is supported), the engine will automatically install the game using preconfigured settings, and play the game after it finishes installation. Thereafter, every time the disc is inserted for that game, the game will play immediately, just like in other game consoles.
GamingNexus: What pieces does a DISCover based system share with a standard PC?
Curtis Kaiser: A DISCover based system is virtually similar to a standard PC, with the exception that certain companies will have customized the motherboard with extra audio and video features, such as onboard s-video out or optical/coaxial digital out. Companies that will use standard PC hardware, such as Alienware for example, will choose the best performing and most stable components for their systems.
GamingNexus: Is there anything that in the DISCover technology that would prevent users from upgrading their systems with new hardware?
Curtis Kaiser: The DISCover technology is the engine behind the Drop & Play technology and is not affected by hardware changes. In other words, it does not prevent users from upgrading their systems. The console manufacturers themselves are the ones who will decide to support hardware upgrades or not. Alienware's console, for example, is large enough to hold the newest and fiercest video boards from nVidia or ATI as well as other upgrades to the system.GamingNexus: How many games will be supported at launch?
Curtis Kaiser: Approximately 1000 games will be supported at launch.
GamingNexus: Will game developers have to do anything to get DISCover support?
Curtis Kaiser: No. Game developers and publishers are excited about the DISCover platform because DISCover consoles play unmodified PC games -- the same games you buy at any retail or online store.
GamingNexus: Do you have any additional manufacturers outside of Apex and Alienware lined up?
Curtis Kaiser: We are partnering with additional manufacturers, including ABS Computers, but we are focusing the initial launch of DISCover consoles on Apex and Alienware. Additional partners will be formally announced later this year.
GamingNexus: Games like Unreal Tournament 2004 take a good time to install. Will your technology reduce install times for games such as this?
Curtis Kaiser: Only slightly. Because DISCover automatically answers the prompts and installs the game for the user, time spent answering installation questions is drastically reduced. The amount of time that this actually saves on the overall install is not significant on a large game such as UT 2004, however.
GamingNexus: Do you feel that you're competitors to Infinium?
Curtis Kaiser: Not really. Although they are playing PC games on the television (which we certainly think is a good idea), they have a completely different business model (based on subscription fees) and are manufacturing and retailing the units themselves - whereas DISCover consoles do not require subscriptions, and are manufactured and marketed by other companies.
GamingNexus: Do you think this technology will open up the PC platform to more gamers? Those that play consoles because of its ease of use?
Curtis Kaiser: Absolutely. There is no question that the PC game library offers a wider variety of games which are more feature-rich and offer better graphics generally than console games. The market has not grown as quickly as the console market for two primary reasons: some people don't like dealing with the hassles of PCs and many people enjoy the living-room experience of consoles.
DISCover is solving both of those problems by removing the hassles associated with PC games and bringing the power of PC games out into the living room. We're also doing it with a huge library of the best and most popular PC games because of the fact that we don't need the developers or publishers to modify any of their games to have them on the DISCover console.
Charles and John would like to thank Curtis for taking the time to talk to us about this new technology.
Check back on Friday when we talk to Alienware’s Brian Joyce about their implementation of the DISCover technology.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.