Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vapor becomes Steam

Gaming's most famous bit of vaporware, the Phantom, is at long last congealing into a digital-distribution service similar to Direct2Drive and Steam. Now that the painful pun-for-a-title has revealed itself, let’s move on (as if the vaporware/Phantom thing weren’t obvious enough. Sheesh).

Announced by Infinium Labs in 2002, The Phantom intended to deliver games through a wireless subscription service, predating Valve’s Steam by a full two years. The press release was full of big claims and little evidence – what were the system specs? How much would it cost? How could a startup with little credibility reliably deliver on such colossal ambition?

They didn’t. We saw a prototype in 2004, and then nothing. When Infinium Labs restructured and became Phantom Entertainment, we gave up what little hope we had of ever seeing The Phantom, which seems appropriate. Also, the console looked like a George Foreman grill.

At time of writing, the Phantom Gamestore is “implementing some changes” and “upgrading their servers.” The irony cascades. God, I love this industry.