IBM Joins Forces With Small and Medium Game Companies Around the World to Accelerate Innovation

IBM Collaborates With Hoplon Infotainment, Online Game Services Incorporated and RenderRocket to Transform the Gaming Industry Worldwide

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WHITE PLAINS, NY - 21 Mar 2006: IBM announced today it is joining forces with Hoplon Infotainment, Online Game Services Incorporated (OGSI) and Render Rocket under separate agreements to help them innovate in the gaming and animation industries. Recognizing the critical role that new technology and services will play in the future of these industries, IBM is working with small and medium gaming companies around the world to empower innovative business models.

IBM offers a variety of hardware, software and service solutions specifically designed to help game companies manage their games environment, reduce expenses, increase efficiency and generate more revenue. While mostly known for working with some of the world's largest game companies, IBM is also engaging with small and medium companies around the world to harness the power of IBM technology while these companies grow their business. Recently IBM has teamed with RenderRocket to create an innovative on demand animation service, a first of its kind game hosting service with OGSI and an on demand hosting environment for Hoplon, which supports a unique game design running on an IBM mainframe.

"IBM's flexible business model helps enable small and medium-sized gaming companies to grow their business at low cost and low risk," said David Laux, IBM Global Executive, Games & Interactive Entertainment. "IBM helps provide innovative business models for innovative companies."

Hoplon Infotainment, a pioneering Brazilian developer of online games and game architectures, was originally considering cluster and possibly grid computing technology for its forthcoming game deployment platform. When attending a grid computing presentation, Hoplon was introduced to the IBM On Demand Business model and the service-oriented architecture (SOA) concept. That meeting changed Hoplon's course completely, and its new game, TaikoDom, is now being hosted on demand by IBM mainframe technology.

"We wanted to create a game deployment platform that was much more scalable and flexible than existing models," said Tarquinio Teles, Hoplon CEO. "It is clear to us that IBM's approach allows us to do that in a way we had not considered before . . . a way that is new to the industry."

Traditional online games exist in one or more "shards," or identical duplicates of the complete game environment. A large game can have a very complex, costly, underutilized infrastructure, with multiple shards running on multiple servers and a great deal of redundancy.

By contrast, Hoplon's game platform places all users in a single shard, but with a modular structure. Dedicated software modules handle specific functions for all players. This modular structure fits in well with the idea of a service-oriented architecture. In an SOA, computing functions are packaged as services that communicate with one another using open standards and clearly defined interfaces. If more modules or more capacity are needed, they can be added quickly and easily; the game "universe" can grow organically with IBM tools and technology.

Hoplon sees great benefit in working with IBM. "It's not just the quality of hardware, software and services, all of which are excellent," says Teles. "We liked the fact that IBM is both local and global at the same time. IBM has local knowledge and knows how business works here in Brazil. But much more important, IBM has a global reach, and is capable of delivering the same quality of service and expertise that we enjoy here at home to our customers in other parts of the world."

When it comes to hosting and services tailored to the needs of the online game industry, OGSI has carved out a niche by offering its customers the highest quality infrastructure and bandwidth at prices game companies can afford.

The OGSI business model is a first of its kind in the industry. From its inception, Silicon Valley-based OGSI has met considerable success with its game service provider business model, and chose IBM BladeCenter® server solutions on which to base its platform.

"For OGSI, it's all about enabling customers with a means to provide their players with the best possible gaming experiences," said James Hursthouse, CEO, OGSI. "The reliability, scalability and price performance of the IBM Blade Server Solution allows OGSI to offer an attractive price point to our customers. They can scale their business as fast as it grows, without taking financial risk."

The OGSI model is based around an affordable monthly recurring fee for all of the hardware, bandwidth and support that a games company needs, regardless of its size. To this end, IBM BladeCenter server systems have been instrumental in helping OGSI customers reduce the risks and capital outlay associated with online game deployment.

Since the initial relationship with IBM began, OGSI has continued to add more IBM BladeCenter systems, as they experience rapid business expansion.

Designed by animators for animators, Los Angeles, California-based RenderRocket provides 3D rendering services on demand to companies worldwide, from broadcast/TV producers and leading visual effects companies to animation, video games, product design and photography studios.

Using RenderRocket, animators can reserve time on, and send their work to a remotely located IBM Deep Computing Capacity on Demand render farm equipped with massive supercomputing power.

The solution offers a tremendous benefit to those businesses finding it difficult to justify large-scale investments in servers and related expenses, as well as having to manage additional unplanned workloads, obtain more capacity or meet tight deadlines during "crunch time."

"IBM offers us the best capacity and the best growth path, enabling our company to grow as fast as we need to. We can now offer our services to mid-sized animation firms who are, in turn, looking to scale quickly. And we can do this after only a few days and a phone call to IBM," says Ruben Perez, Executive Producer, RenderRocket. "IBM's ability to offer computing power on demand is critical to our business."

With IBM, RenderRocket did not have to invest in a costly capital infrastructure or systems management teams. In turn, its customers can avoid similar expenses and concerns by leveraging the distinctive interface it had already developed. Says Perez, "One of the things allowing us to offer a successful service is that we are able to put together a solution focusing on our strengths in animation and rendering, while IBM handles the core component of the technology. This enables a company like ours to do so without having to invest millions of dollars, which therefore reduces our business risk."

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