Summary:

G-cluster plans to enter the U.S. market with an on-demand gaming service. The company has secured an unnamed amount of funding from Intel and French mobile carrier SFR to expand its reach beyond home casual gaming and movie streaming into high-end gaming for tablets and smartphones.

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Japanese cloud-gaming and VOD startup G-cluster plans to enter the U.S. market with an on-demand mobile gaming service, presenting a possible challenge to OnLive. The company has secured an unnamed amount of funding from Intel and Vivendi’s French mobile carrier SFR to expand its reach beyond home casual gaming and movie streaming into high-end gaming for tablets and smartphones.

G-cluster has already established itself in France, providing a casual gaming service through SFR’s residential broadband arm that customers can access through their TVs and set-top boxes or on their Macs or PCs. In Japan, G-cluster is offering an HD movie-on-demand service to connected TVs. But according to Sevan Kessissian, G-cluster VP of Content and Strategy, the startup has bigger ambitions than just casual gaming and video in the domicile. It plans to combine the processing might of the cloud and low-latency, high-bandwidth connections of new wireless networks to create a mobile service that supports high-quality, real-time gaming to tablets and other mobile devices. And it plans to launch that service in the U.S.

“We are in discussion with major partners in order to penetrate the US market” Kessissian said via e-mail. “The game catalogue will be a blend of the best casual games and AAA games.”

Kessissian didn’t provide any details about which partners G-cluster is in discussions with or when such a U.S. service would launch, but when it finally does emerge here it may find an already established competitor in the market. In December, OnLive announced its mobile gaming service for iOS and Android devices.

My colleague Kevin Tofel reviewed OnLive’s mobile beta on the iPad, over both Wi-Fi and 3G, and was particularly impressed by its performance when hooked into his home network connection. As Kevin pointed out in earlier post, virtualization services like cloud gaming to the tablet and smartphone are proliferating, delivering one more blow to already suffering PC sales.

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