Tectoy, Qualcomm Aim Emerging Video Game Markets with Zeebo

Zeebo Presents Gaming For The Next Billion

by Anton Shilov
03/23/2009 | 04:37 PM

Video game consoles have become rather popular in well-developed countries, but large emerging markets like China, India, Latin America and some others have still remained untapped with video game consoles. Moreover, due to widespread software piracy in those regions, large video game platform providers are hardly interested in promoting their products there. Zeebo, a new creator of video game system, wants to change that with own-brand game machine.


“The Zeebo console will deliver a truly engaging and entertaining gaming experience to a potential billion new consumers around the world, many of whom have never experienced gaming in the home,” said John F. Rizzo, chief executive officer of Zeebo.

The Zeebo video game console is powered by Qualcomm MSM core-logic set, ARM11/QDSP-5 processor running at 528MHz and Qualcomm Adreno 130 graphics core and mobile display processor (MDP). The system features 1GB NAND flash memory, 128MB of DDR SDRAM, SD card slot, USB ports, quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and tri-band UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA controllers. The console will output video games with 640x480 resolution. Zeebo is controlled by Tectoy and Qualcomm.

Zeebo announced today that its new wireless videogame console will begin shipping in Brazil through targeted retail distribution next month. Zeebo is the first affordable 3D game console designed specifically for emerging global markets. The console features secure 3G wireless game delivery and addresses the special requirements of these regions, where the current generation videogame consoles and content is expensive for the middle class, content is not culturally or locally relevant, and software piracy makes these markets unattractive for content providers. The Zeebo system ships with four pre-embedded games and provides users the ability to download a fifth title for free. It carries a suggested retail price of $199 in Brazil, where video game systems like PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 cost around $1000 and are usually modified to run pirated video game titles.

In other international markets, Zeebo is expected to retail for less than $179 this year and well below $149 in volume next year.

“The system provides an intuitive, quick, and easy-to-use home shopping user experience featuring popular, culturally optimized content from leading game publishers and developers around the world. It also delivers high value and warranty protection compared to gray-market products with no need for a separate wireless access plan,” Mr. Rizzo claimed.

Video games for Zeebo will cost around $12 per title in Brazil, which is just $2 more expensive compared to a pirated game. Large publishers Activision Blizzard and Electronics Arts have already confirmed intention to offer games for Zeebo. Other developers and publishers, such as Capcom, Com2uS, Digital Chocolate, EA Mobile, Gameloft, Glu, Id Software, Machineworks Northwest LLC, Namco Networks and THQ, are porting a wide array of console, PC, dedicated handheld and high-end mobile titles to the Zeebo platform, according to the company.

While Zeebo seems to be a promising technology, it remains to be seen whether the company will actually become successful just because pricing of the hardware and software is lower. Traditional makers of video game systems, such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, can reconsider their pricing policies for emerging markets, which will undermine Zeebo’s path to success.