TransGaming delivers the goods to tech-obsessed gamers

Families who’ve gathered around dinner tables for decades rolling dices and plotting moves on board games have the luxury of doing the same thing on their television screens, a phenomenon that has created a revenue haven forTransGaming (CVE:TNG).

The Toronto-based company, founded in 2000, acts as a middle man of sorts, connecting game developers like Disney Interactive (NYSE:DIS), Electronic Arts (NYSE:EA) andActivision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) to consumers through several channels, including Smart TV, set-top boxes andApple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Mac computers.

It’s a win-win affair for both publishers and gamers alike:TransGaming’s technology brings products to markets much more quickly. That’s because the company’s proprietary technology, Cider, allows PC games to function seamlessly on Mac devices without the need for a cumbersome overhaul, meaning the Mac versions of top titles can hit the shelves simultaneously with their PC counterparts. That has made fans of The Sims 3, Max Payne and FIFA Soccer happy.

“There’s so much coding that goes into a triple A video game, that trying to redevelop it is time consuming and a very expensive proposition,” president and chief executive officer Vikas Gupta told Proactive Investors. “Our technology allows us to literally wrap, drop and go.”

While the conversion factor is key to TransGaming’s success, so is its distribution system. Through GameTreeMac.com, the company delivers games to consumers straight onto their Macs and through its cloud gaming platform, GameTree TV, games are delivered to Smart TVs. It’s a recurring revenue stream with growth potential that propelled sales 60% higher to $9.8 million in fiscal 2013.

“What we’ve done is taken all our technology prowess and packaged it up and put a bow around it in such a way that we now have a great distribution vehicle for the content we’ve enabled using our core technologies,” Gupta said.

The revenue model can be compared to Netflix’s (NASDAQ:NFLX) subscription-based concept. A cable company charges a consumer, say, $4.99 for monthly access to a catalog of games. The service provider keeps a quarter of that, or $1, and sends the rest to TransGaming, which splits the remaining $3 with its content partners.

With all the hype around Macs, TransGaming’s origins, interestingly, had nothing to do with them; the early modus operandi was connected to Windows and Linux. But the company saw that Linux was reaching its zenith, and as it began to peruse the market place, Apple migrated from a power PC chip set to Intel’s (NASDAQ:INTC) X86 architecture. The Mac’s user-friendliness appealed to TransGaming, and it soon migrated its Linux technology over to Mac.

TransGaming’s brush with Smart TV technology began when Intel approached the company in its search for a gaming partner.TransGaming put together a user interface compatible with Intel’s hardware, equipped with 16 games from its collection and impressed the Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm so much that its start-up investment arm, Intel Capital, put half a million dollars into the company and invited Gupta to be a keynote speaker at its developer conference, Intel Developer Forum, in San Francisco.

“That became the coming out party for our Smart TV distribution,” Gupta said, which led to broader strides into digital distribution of interactive entertainment content onto Smart TV.

Incidentally, Intel announced that it will launch its own Internet TV set-top box sometime this year, which could be a distribution outlet for TransGaming. And, building on a recent agreement that it signed with TV streaming platform Roku, TransGaming plans a major launch in the weeks ahead.

The company also makes money by licensing its 3D-rendering software, SwiftShader. During the company conference call on Tuesday, Gupta said TransGaming is exploring ways to supplement or replace the graphics processing unit, or GPU, on mobile devices. That type of technology would make games on smart phones and tablets faster and open up a wide range of possibilities as far as the scope and complexity of games that the devices can handle. “It’s a market we are aggressively going after,” Gupta said.

TransGaming is trying its hand at developing its own games, too, with the release of World Poker Tour this fall. It is also toying with the concept of micro transactions. For example, picking the shiny shoe as a playing piece in Monopoly would come at a premium. Even if a small sub-set of players make the selection, it’s still a decent amount of coin.

Hard core gamers, surprisingly, don’t make up TransGaming’s target market for its GameTree TV platform, which is instead made up of moms, dads and tweens who are looking to kill time 15 minutes before their favourite show begins and return to playing once it’s over. “What we’re trying to do is give people snackable experiences. Our end vision is to turn the living room back into the social hub that it was meant to be.”

From the living room to the board room, the company split into two divisions in the past fiscal year, and has been keeping costs in check during a transitional period, during which it retired US$2.8 million in liabilities and refinanced its debt on its way to a near break-even fiscal year.

The institutional investors that have taken notice of TransGaming — including names like Front Street Capital – have been well rewarded. The stock has charged up 44 per cent this year.

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