Microsoft Brings Multiplayer Games to the Internet With DirectPlay

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 2, 1996 — In another enhancement to its highly successful DirectX
™technology family, Microsoft Corp. today announced the Microsoft®
DirectPlay
™
Internet Gaming Architecture, a set of technologies for online games and online game service providers. The DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture, announced to hundreds of developers gathered here today at the 10th annual Computer Game Developers Conference (CGDC), lays the foundation for an entire multiplayer gaming industry.

This exciting technology extends the successful Microsoft DirectX APIs to the Internet and enables the creation of both sophisticated online games and virtual online
“lobbies”
that coordinate multiplayer games and drive a new generation of online game services.

Game players will soon be able to engage in contests with friends or strangers over the Internet,
“meet”
each other in virtual game lobbies to coordinate online match-ups, and choose from a wide selection of online gaming services to make it all happen. In addition to enabling new opportunities and business models, the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture is a complete solution that can be utilized by every online gaming service currently up and running or in development.

“There’s nothing more realistic than playing a fast-action game against human opponents,”
said Brad Silverberg, senior vice president of the Internet platform and tools division at Microsoft.
“DirectPlay and the PC extend this realism to the Internet. The online world is the next big step for game developers and consumers: Broad industry support for DirectPlay proves it.”

The DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture includes the following components:

  • DirectPlay, part of the DirectX API set, which enables multiplayer gaming across any network supported by a DirectPlay Service Provider.

  • DirectPlay Service Providers, which offer drivers that enable networks to host DirectPlay games. Currently supported networks include simple modem connections between two computers, local area networks supported by the Microsoft
    Windows®
    95 operating system, and the DWANGO online gaming service. These drivers are currently shipping. The DirectPlay Service Provider for the Internet is in alpha form and is being demonstrated to developers at the CGDC.

  • DirectPlay Lobby Client, which enables game players using DirectPlay to find opponents and organize games online using DirectPlay Lobby Servers.

  • DirectPlay Lobby Server, which coordinates game players seeking online opponents and facilitates the setup of new online games and the creation of online gaming environments.

  • DirectPlay Game Server, which handles online games among multiple opponents and coordinates billing.

  • DirectPlay Client Billing API, which enables fee-based DirectPlay-compatible games using any online money provider.

Industry Embraces Internet Gaming Initiative

Leading game companies and online services plan to bring the Internet-based online gaming experience to their users via the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture. Developers are already shipping sophisticated multiplayer games using the DirectPlay API released last fall. The added components of the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture now enable them to offer name-brand, online gaming services using the Internet or their own private networks, engendering a broad selection of compelling online games for users.

“The DirectPlay Internet Architecture gives us the flexibility we need to develop state-of-the-art multiplayer games for the Internet,”
said Howard Marks, executive vice president of Activision Studios.
“Microsoft’s successful extension of DirectX to the online world will allow game players everywhere to enjoy the power and excitement of multiplayer DirectX games.”

“We’re enthusiastic about the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture,”
said David Foster, vice president of business development at UUNET Technologies Inc., a leading provider of Internet Services.
“UUNET has considerable experience with server-based offerings, and DirectPlay gives us the potential to host game servers for our new and existing customers.”

“With the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture, Microsoft has stepped up to the plate to deliver a specification that makes it easy for us to deliver a whole new gaming experience to our customers,”
said Konstantin Othmer, executive vice president of products at Catapult Entertainment Inc. and former director of graphics at Apple Computer Inc.
“By eliminating the headaches of writing to multiple APIs, the Microsoft initiative enables developers and online game service providers to speak a common language and deliver the most dynamic gaming experience possible to end users.”

The following additional companies support the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture:

3D/EYE Inc., Angie Ciarloni, (770) 937-9000 ext. 1227; e-mail, angiec@atlsrv01.eye.com

Activision Studios, Maryanne Lataif, (310) 473-9200

Catapult Entertainment Inc., Susan Baldwin, (408) 366-1735 ext. 263; e-mail, Susan@catapent.com

The Dream Designers, Somora Saint, (310) 589-9781; e-mail, dreammail@ix.netcom.com

DWANGO, Glenn Mandel, (212) 696-2000 ext. 240; e-mail, gmandel@tsipr.com

Imagination Network, Cindy Wilson, (415) 548-2545; e-mail, cindy.wilson@imagin1.com

Kali, Jay Cotton, (706) 542-5765

Looking Glass Technologies Inc., Michael Sack, (617) 441-6333; e-mail, msack@lglass.com

LucasArts Entertainment Co., Tom Sarris, (415) 444-8222; e-mail, tsarris@lucasarts.com

Maxis, Patrick Buechner, (510) 927-3782

Mindscape Inc., Michael E. Duffy, (415) 897-9900

NCompass, Lydia Loizides, (604) 606-0950; e-mail, ncompass@sfu.ca

OnLive! Technologies Inc., Trudy Nicolay, (408) 777-2173; e-mail, trudy@onlive.com

SegaSoft, Steve Payne, (415) 802-4455

Starwave Corp., Jayne Von Der Embse, (206) 936-9097

UUNET Technologies Inc., Paula Jagemann, (703) 206-5888

Virtual Studios Ltd., Ian Copone

In addition, other leading Internet companies, online services and game developers are working with DirectPlay and plan announcements later this year.

Delivery and Availability

At the Computer Game Developers Conference today, Microsoft released extensive technical information about the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture to developers. An initial group of developers also received an alpha version of the DirectPlay Service Provider Developer Kit. The Service Provider kit, a key component of the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture, enables any network or communications service vendor to create the software needed to host DirectPlay games on its service. DirectPlay is network- and protocol-independent, which allows any communication service provider to support DirectPlay with ease.

The client-side components of the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture are scheduled for release this August. The server-side components are planned to be released by the end of the year, potentially enabling the first Internet-based DirectPlay games to be released by the 1996 holiday season.

Interested game developers can obtain more information about DirectPlay and the DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture by visiting the Microsoft home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.microsoft.com/devonly/. The DirectPlay Internet Gaming Architecture components listed previously will be delivered to developers via the Microsoft Developer Network Level II. Developers interested in Microsoft Developer Network membership can call (800) 759-5474 in the United States or Canada, or (303) 684-0914 outside North America to obtain local contact information. Microsoft Developer Network Level II memberships cost approximately $495 per year.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, DirectX, DirectPlay and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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