Spawn Labs Launches at TechCrunch 50

We’re reporting here live from the TC50 show floor. You can watch the livestream here, with video of the presentation also embeded below.

Among today’s demos was Austin-based Spawn Labs, which makes it possible to play your Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, PS3 and Gamecube from anywhere in the world with a broadband internet connection. It is essentially a Slingbox for games.

Much of the details were revealed on-stage, but we’re including some of the additional use-cases below to give context:

During the demo, Spawn Labs CEO David Wilson showed us how he was playing Soul Caliber 4 over the internet, connected to his XBox 360 back home. That is cool in and of itself, but there’s more to it. At home, a gamer can play on their console or TV, while multiple friends can join the game remotely. When traveling, any gamer can play any of their Spawn Labs-connected consoles through a broadband connection; regardless of distance, a gamer and several friends can play a game together from multiple broadband-connected endpoints.

You can also see your friends’ game consoles on the Spawn Labs portal. From the portal you can send invitations to people to play on your console, tell you what game is loaded, see if someone else is playing it, and if your console is available or busy. The spectator mode allows your friends to see all your cool moves, either live in real-time or recorded and saved.

If you’re trying to play a game over the internet, there is always a big issue of network traffic and latency. Studies show that latency is noticeable to users when the round-trip takes greater than 85 milliseconds. Spawn Labs says that their device currently runs about 100 milliseconds, but they have some ways in the short term to get it down to 70 milliseconds. When internet traffic gets too crazy, the device will automatically downgrade the video quality from HD to lower definition.

The unit is priced at $199, and as of today’s launch Spawn Labs is taking pre-orders. The product will be available in November, and orders will be filled on a first-ordered, first-served basis.

Presentation notes:

CEO David Wilson did very well. Had a live XBox game (Soul Caliber) being played live onscreen. It was impressive, in real time, and with no image degradation or perceptible lag or latency.

Nice tweets from the likes of Sean Percival: “Spawnlabs is brilliant, play xbox at work!”

Some unfortunate product issues emerging now towards the end — not working, not sure why. Up next: judge commentary and questions.

Calcanis: “Slingbox for XBox” — what do you think?

Jason Hirschorn: I was at Slingbox, what about a “carousel” approach, or is it just only whatever single disc you have in the console? Answer: for now, just what you have in the console. We’ll get there over time, we have thought a lot about this.

George Zachary:  a bandwidth issue, or a latency issue? I used to encounter this when I worked at Nintendo. Answer: latency is there, but barely detectable.

They are at 85 milliseconds of latency, think they can easily get down to 70. Geography does matter.

Follow-up from George: Targeted at in-home networks where there is no latency, or everywhere? Answer: we’re doing both, and all of the above.

Slingbox started at same price — $199.

Don Dodge: assume it works, latency is not a problem, etc. Bet is that consumers will pay $199 to play remotely. How badly do gamers want to play remotely? Answer: strong response thus far, from individuals to developers.

Dodge follow-up: integrate with any game? Answer: on supported consoles — Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, PS3 and Gamecube. Another follow-up: also assumes that you take controler with you, plug into USB? Answer: you can, but you also use your keyboard, etc.

Yossi Vardi: What about the iPhone as a controller? Answer: Conceivably — yes. But not yet.

Arrington: Best Buy — you’re right here. Raise your hand. How many of these can you move? David, you need to meet them immediately after this.

David: thank you. That would be great. We are in discussions with several retailers, and we do think that it will sell.

And, we’re out!

Video of the demo:

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