RealNetworks Launches Online Gaming Service

Technology bellwethers like Microsoft Corp. and AOL Time Warner have long
predicted a future in which shrink-wrapped applications and entertainment is
history and Internet delivery is the name of the game. It’s the idea
propelling Microsoft’s development of the .Net initiative and it was the
driving force behind America Online’s merger with Time Warner. But it was
Real Networks Inc. — which has made a name for itself delivering music over
the Internet — that grabbed the early mover reins Monday.

RealNetworks Inc. Monday moved to formally branch out from its roots as a
music delivery service and stepped fully into the realm of online gaming
with the beta launch of RealArcade.

The company already had its foot in the gaming door with its Real.com Games
Web site. But RealArcade takes the concept a giant step further by creating
an all-in-one, free games service that offers consumers the tools to find,
acquire, manage and play PC games. The company launched the service Monday
with 120 games from more than 40 top developers and publishers.

“RealArcade offers PC gamers an immersive entertainment experience that’s
like nothing else,” said Rob Glaser, founder and chief executive officer of
RealNetworks. “Our goal was to make it fun and simple to find, organize and
play a mix of games across the widest range of genres. RealArcade’s easy
interface, rich features, and community environment will earn the ‘high
score’ with consumers.”

RealArcade includes a game guide to keep users posted on the hot
new games, and also includes indexing features like RealArcade Games and the
Games Bazaar — an open publishing area with top retail game demo downloads
as well as independent, self-submitted games by the grassroots developers
community.

So, you’re wondering, “a newsletter and a database can handle that, what
else has it got?” RealArcade gives users the ability to acquire games. It
has one-click guaranteed download and automatic installation with system
requirements checking. An integrated e-commerce solution enables purchasing
and RealArcade keeps a history of those purchases, acting as a virtual CD
backup to ensure games are never lost. Once the games are installed, a “scan
for games” feature organizes all the games in one place and displays them in
a quick launch list.

RealArcade also tackles community creation by offering message boards for
sharing strategies and ideas, user reviews and ratings, and chat. It also
offers the ability to find opponents or partners for peer-to-peer and
server-based multiplayer games. And, a community-wide system allows users to
post scores and rank their progress against other players.

“With today’s launch, RealNetworks has opened up an exciting new
distribution channel for PC games,” said Michael Calleja, director of
business development, Infogrames. “With digital distribution through
RealArcade, consumers get a great shopping experience, a wide selection of
titles, and instant digital fulfillment of full version games. RealArcade
promises to be an excellent delivery mechanism for the more mainstream games
we are launching.”

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