Microsoft Unveils First Premium Games For Its Internet Gaming Zone

REDMOND, Wash., June 16, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that it is on a roll with its popular Internet Gaming Zone ( ). Topping the news about the Zone, Microsoft plans to expand the site by introducing its first two premium games, Microsoft® Fighter Ace
and Asheron’s Call
. Both multiplayer games will be previewed at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E 3 ) trade show June 19-21 in Atlanta (Booth 2616 in the West Hall, Georgia Congress Center).

Microsoft also announced that a record 275,000 members have signed up to play over its free gaming site (connect-time charges may apply), making the Zone one of the largest gaming communities on the Internet. In addition, the company exceeded monthly matchmaking projections for the Zone during May, when more than 1 million game sessions brought gamers together from around the world.

“Online gaming is gaining popularity because it brings the social dynamic back to computer games,”
said Steve Murch, product unit manager for the Zone team at Microsoft.
“In a little more than a year, 275,000 people – enough to fill five football stadiums – have joined the Zone and rediscovered that it’s the human element that makes games really fun.”

Fighter Ace, Asheron’s Call Will Offer Massively Multiplayer Game Play

The first two premium Microsoft titles were designed specifically to be played over the Internet. Whether players are flying a World War II fighter plane along with a hundred other people, or role-playing in a fantasy world with thousands, these games demonstrate the power the Internet can bring to gaming.

Fighter Ace, a World War II dogfighting game, can support more than 100 players in a single flight arena. It features 16 accurately replicated aircraft from the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Russia. Pilots will be able to fly in
private game and team-play modes. In addition, Fighter Ace will provide variable levels of difficulty (rookie through expert), player profiles and flight records, plus great aircraft graphics and terrain modeling. Fighter Ace is scheduled to be available in beta version this July and go live later in the summer. The game is being developed with VR-1 Inc. of Boulder, Colo.

The second premium game, Asheron’s Call, is an epic role-playing game that will support thousands of players simultaneously. The fabric of this fantasy game, including advanced combat, health, magic and allegiance systems, allows players to develop characters and interact in a variety of ways that provide infinite depth and capability for replay. The rich first-person perspective immerses the player immediately in the dynamic gaming universe. Asheron’s Call, scheduled for release during the first quarter of 1998, is being developed by Turbine Entertainment Software Corp. of Westwood, Mass. Both Fighter Ace and Asheron’s Call will be free for download (connect-time charges may apply) and carry nominal daily or monthly usage fees.

Hasbro Interactive, Microsoft Bring Popular Games to the Zone

Easy-to-use ZoneMatch
lobbies are currently available for 14 games, from backgammon to LucasArts X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter; the Zone is scheduled to offer more than 20 games by the end of this year.

Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II and Star Wars Rebellion from LucasArts are expected to be available in the Zone this summer and fall. Scrabble® , the world’s most popular word game, from Hasbro Interactive, was added to the Zone this month. Other CD-ROM titles from Hasbro Interactive coming to the Zone include Risk, Pictionary and Battleship.

Microsoft said that the majority of its upcoming 1997 holiday titles, including Flight Simulator 98, Age of Empires
and Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far, will be enabled for multiplayer gaming on the Zone.

High-Speed Game Play Rounds Out Features

To help satisfy hard-core gamers’ appetites for consistently fast multiplayer game play, this summer Microsoft plans to begin offering access to the DWANGO-Zone through a relationship with Interactive Visual Systems Corp., the founder and operator of DWANGO. DWANGO provides easy-to-use dial-up access for guaranteed low-latency game play and is available in more than 20 major cities nationwide.


There is no cost to be a Zone member. The Zone offers substantial content for free*, including ZoneMatch lobbies for classic games and popular retail CD-ROMs.

The following games are currently available, with free matchmaking:

  • Parlor games. Spades, chess, bridge, backgammon, checkers, hearts, go, Reversi

  • From Microsoft. Monster Truck Madness
    , Microsoft Golf 3.0, Close Combat, Hellbender

  • From LucasArts. X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, Outlaws

  • From Hasbro. Scrabble

The following games are coming soon, with free matchmaking:

  • From Hasbro. Risk, Pictionary, Battleship

  • From LucasArts. Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Star Wars Rebellion

  • From Microsoft. Flight Simulator ’98, Age of Empires, CART Precision Racing
    , Baseball 3D, Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far

The following premium games, offered on a per-day or per-month flat fee, are coming soon:

  • Fighter Ace

  • Asheron’s Call

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 .

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, Fighter Ace, Asheron’s Call, ZoneMatch, Age of Empires, Monster Truck Madness, Hellbender, Precision Racing and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Scrabble is a trademark of Hasbro Inc. in the United States and Canada.

Rights to Scrabble elsewhere in the world are owned by J.W. Spear & Sons,, PLC.

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.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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