Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone Reaches 500,000 Members

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 15, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that its free Internet Gaming Zone ( has attracted more than 500,000 members – making it the largest gaming site on the Internet. Along with this milestone, the company announced new features to the Zone and released the limited beta version of the Fighter Ace
online multiplayer game, the company’s first “pay-for-play” game.

Since Microsoft launched a redesigned Internet Gaming Zone in March, the Zone has added approximately 100,000 new members each month. Zone members have been attracted by the site’s combination of free classic games and free matchmaking for 14 retail CD-ROM games.

The Zone, a free site for gamers (connect-time charges may apply), generates revenue from advertising. With the addition of Fighter Ace , Microsoft opens a second revenue stream from daily and monthly subscriptions for this one premium game.

“We’re confident we offer a winning combination – free classic games, free matchmaking for great retail games and now this new breed of games designed for hundreds of people to play exclusively on the Zone,” said Beth Featherstone, marketing manager for the games group at Microsoft. “The Zone offers something for everyone, and 40 percent of Internet gamers surveyed have told us they would consider paying for premium gaming experiences.”

Designed Specifically for the Internet

Fighter Ace is a World War II air combat game that exists exclusively on the Internet. It allows more than 100 people to play in a single flight arena at the same time. Gamers interested in this type of premium gaming experience will pay $1.95 per day, or $19.95 per month for people who want to play frequently.

“Offering players a daily or monthly option rather than an hourly rate allows them to really experience the game rather than focus on watching the clock to see if they’re running out of time,” Featherstone said. “It doesn’t cost them much to try the game for a full day to see if they like it.”

Fighter Ace is now in limited, closed beta testing and is scheduled to go online this winter.

Free Matchmaking for Holiday’s Hottest Titles

The Zone will support free online matchmaking for some of the hottest holiday ’97 retail CD-ROM games. These include Lucas Arts’ highly anticipated Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Hasbro’s Pictionar classic family entertainment title and Microsoft Flight Simulator 98, CART Precision Racing
, Age of Empires
and Close Combat
: A Bridge Too Far.

New Features Include Joining Games in Progress

The Zone, which got a new look earlier this month, also added two new features: the ability to join games that are already in progress and improved chat functionality, which allows users to create private chat rooms.

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.

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.

Microsoft, Fighter Ace, Precision Racing, Age of Empires and Close Combat 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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