REDMOND, Wash., March 10, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today unveiled significant enhancements to its rapidly growing Internet Gaming Zone, announced several new Zone strategic relationships, and outlined its publishing framework for Internet gaming.
The Zone (http://www.zone.com/) , having grown from just 15,000 users in May 1996 to over 200,000 today, is already one of the most active gaming sites on the Internet. It boasts free* matchmaking support for some of today’s most popular games and now adds an easier-to-use, fully Web-integrated interface and several new features to enhance the multiplayer gaming experience. Among the new features unveiled today are improved ZoneMatch lobbies, which allow players to find each other easily on the Internet and start a game with just three clicks of the mouse.
“Since the beginning, we’ve believed that players shouldn’t have to pay multiple times or be computer engineers to simply play a retail game over the Internet,” said Steve Murch, product unit manager of the Internet Gaming Zone. “We’ve designed ZoneMatch to be easy and free for just that reason.”
Currently, 11 multiplayer games, from bridge and chess to the Microsoft® Monster Truck Madness
racing simulator game and Microsoft Golf 3.0, can be played via the Zone. Backgammon, the game most asked for by Zone members, will be released later this spring.
The preview of the new Zone also includes ZoneMessage, which allows players to find each other more easily across the many areas of the Zone. Another new feature, ZoneLAN, allows gamers to use the Zone’s matchmaking features to play multiplayer games that require the IPX networking protocol.
Alliances to Expand the Scope of the Zone
Microsoft today also announced two new agreements that will dramatically expand the number of games and features offered to Zone players during 1997:
Hasbro Interactive Worldwide. Hasbro Interactive’s line of popular games is scheduled to be available for matchmaking in the Zone this summer. Players around the world already know how to play great games such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk and Battleship, and the Zone will allow the easiest way to play these games over the Internet. “We’re pleased to be working with Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone to make online gaming relevant to a truly mass-market audience,” said Gary Carlin, Hasbro Interactive vice president of marketing. “Joining Hasbro Interactive’s best-selling CD-ROM games with the Zone’s easy Internet play gives the average person and family a compelling reason to go online.”
DWANGO. To help satiate hard-core gamers’ appetites for consistently fast game play at the absolute lowest possible latency, the Zone is working with DWANGO to provide Zone members with easy access to DWANGO’s network of dial-up gaming servers. Starting this summer, the agreement will allow Zone members the use of dial-up matchmaking services through DWANGO’s dedicated network of servers, which are currently available in 22 U.S. cities. Using DWANGO servers will provide hard-core gamers a premium, low-latency multiplayer option at a low cost.
Microsoft’s Publishing Framework for Internet Gaming
Microsoft plans to continue to provide free matchmaking for CD-ROM games as well as classic games. The company will fund this free space through advertising and corporate sponsorship. Offering free matchmaking services will enable Microsoft to deliver an unprecedented volume of gamers to publishers who use the Zone for Internet play.
From a technical perspective, ZoneMatch supports the Microsoft DirectPlay® application programming interface (API), which provides an easy foundation for game developers to multiplayer-enable their game. Together, DirectPlay and ZoneMatch provide a development framework and a publishing vehicle for game developers interested in delivering an Internet game to a ready market.
“Made-for-Medium” Games and Tournaments Deliver High-Flying Fun
Microsoft is developing “made-for-medium” games designed exclusively for Internet play. The first such game, currently titled Fighter Ace
, is being developed withVR-1 and is scheduled to debut on the Zone this summer.
Microsoft Fighter Ace is an online World War II air combat game using accurately replicated aircraft from the United States, Britain, Germany and the Soviet Union. The game, which will support more than 100 players in a single flight arena, features 12 different planes, scenario- and arena-based combat, team play, variable difficulty (rookie through expert), player and flight records, plus realistic aircraft graphics and terrain modeling. It will be easy to set up and install, so minimal skill and effort will be required to get up and flying.
Fighter Ace, and other made-for-medium games to follow, will carry subscriber fees that allow players to pay by the day or by the month.
In addition to made-for-medium games, Microsoft also plans to fulfill gamers’ interest in online tournaments. This summer, the company plans to join with AT & T Corp. and Golf Digest
to sponsor a nationwide best-ball Microsoft Golf 3.0 tourney on the Zone. Additional Zone tournaments are scheduled to take place later this year.
The Internet Gaming Zone has served Internet gamers since October 1995. In May 1996, Microsoft acquired Electric Gravity Inc., the original designer of the Internet Gaming Zone. The Zone is also available as a free* Essentials service on MSN
, The Microsoft Network, at (http://zone.MSN.com/) .
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) 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.
* Internet access charges may apply.
Microsoft, ZoneMatch, Monster Truck Madness, ZoneMessage, DirectPlay, Fighter Ace and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.
The Microsoft Network is operated by Microsoft Corp. on behalf of Microsoft Network LLC.
For online product information:
Internet Gaming Zone Web site: (http://www.zone.com/)
Microsoft games Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/games/
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