Key Players Tap Microsoft DirectPlay to Deliver Online Gaming to the Masses

REDMOND, Wash., April 28, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced widespread adoption in the online gaming industry of the Microsoft® DirectPlay® application programming interface (API), a component of the DirectX
™
5.0 set of APIs. DirectPlay simplifies matchmaking (lobby) services and provides API services for applications to communicate with each other independent of underlying transport, protocol or online service.

New DirectPlay lobby functionality allows game developers and content aggregators to create custom-branded lobbies from which DirectPlay titles can be launched. Fueling the already-flourishing online gaming craze, DirectPlay enables developers to easily write multiplayer online games while ensuring that the games can be played on the broadest range of networking platforms.

“Until now, online gaming was an emerging industry because of the lack of one standard interface to connect, lobby and launch game players,” said Tod Nielsen, general manager, applications and Internet client group at Microsoft. “The adoption of DirectPlay is providing the infrastructure to jump-start interactive, multiplayer gaming over the Internet. With DirectX and Microsoft Internet Explorer, gamers are introduced to the next level of gaming – gamer vs. gamer instead of gamer vs. computer.”

Major destination and solution providers, including America Online Inc.’s ImagiNation Network, Mpath Interactive Inc., Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone, Networked Entertainment Inc., The Palace Inc. and RTIME Inc., have announced support for DirectPlay, and many will be demonstrating technology at the Computer Game Developers Conference (CGDC) held in Santa Clara, Calif., April 27-29, 1997.

Removing Connectivity Barriers

Previously, online gaming solutions have been supplied by special-purpose service providers offering games tailored specifically for a single online service. DirectPlay opens online gaming across any connection, allowing gamers to connect seamlessly across the various connectivity options available for the PC – direct modem-to-modem, serial connection, LAN networking over TCP/IP or networking over IPX and Internet using TCP/IP.

The DirectPlay interface makes the idiosyncrasies of each communications link transparent, so developers don’t have to address the complexities and unique tasks required for each connectivity solution individually. With connectivity barriers removed, developers can focus on producing compelling game titles and gain a much larger target market for their games.

Game developers have already released and are in development on DirectPlay-enabled games, including A-10 CUBA! (Activision Inc.), Battleship (Hasbro Interactive), G-NOME (7th Level Inc.), Heros of Might and Magic II (New World Computing/3DO Co.), Lords of the Realm II (Sierra On-Line Inc.), Sega Rally (Sega Entertainment Inc.) and NBA Live97 (Electronic Sports/Canada). Because DirectPlay-enabled games are playable on any proprietary network or online service that writes to a DirectPlay service provider, developers need only to write a game once, allowing developers to advertise and deliver their games to a much wider market segment. Several game companies are delivering Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 with their titles, bringing gamers a complete out-of-the-box online gaming solution.

Pricing and Availability

DirectPlay 5 Beta 1 has been released to developers for review, and DirectPlay for the Windows® 95 operating system is scheduled for final release as part of DirectX 5.0 this summer. DirectX is free to developers. The DirectPlay API and additional information about DirectPlay and DirectX are available for download from the Internet on the Microsoft DirectX Web site, http://www.microsoft.com/directx/ .

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, DirectPlay, DirectX and Windows 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.

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Destination Providers Encourage DirectPlay Development

America Online/ImagiNation Network

“We want to make it as easy as possible for game developers to create the most robust and feature-filled online games for play within our entertainment environments. By building upon DirectX as the foundation, we hope to standardize and enhance the platform for games developers.”

– Dean DeBiase

President and CEO

ImagiNation Network

Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone

“Using DirectPlay is the easiest way to enable multiplayer play via the Internet. If you’ve chosen to use DirectPlay, then enabling your game to work with the Internet Gaming Zone is an easy process.”

– Steve Murch

Product Unit Manager

Internet Gaming Zone

Mpath Interactive

“Mplayer delivers the high speed necessary for social and fun aspects of multiplayer gaming along with the variety of compelling content that consumers demand from their service provider. DirectPlay is the glue between the two. Having a common DirectPlay API to write to makes it economically feasible for developers to provide an abundance of the best content for the end user.”

– Rob Csongor

Vice President of Marketing

Mpath Foundation Group

Solution Providers Show Strong Support for DirectPlay

The Palace

“Play and competition are a natural part of any community, so The Palace sees the marriage of multiuser games and virtual communities as a logical evolution. With DirectPlay lobby support, a gamer in Japan can meet someone from Iowa, launch and play a game, and then return to the lobby to trade ‘war’ stories. This experience wasn’t possible until today. What a great opportunity for game sites and game developers.”

– Mike Maerz

President and CEO

The Palace

RTIME

“DirectPlay will allow us to provide LAN and head-to-head services that would otherwise be difficult to implement. The combination of RTIME’s high-level power and the low-level ubiquity of DirectPlay is a very compelling combination to the game industry.”

– Rolland Waters

Founder and CTO

RTIME

Networked Entertainment

“We are very pleased to offer support and interoperability for DirectPlay lobby technology. Igames provides the technologies and tools necessary to build rich, community-based environments around Microsoft DirectPlay games.”

– David Wolf

President and Chief Gamer

Networked Entertainment

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