Microsoft Opens Virtual World to the Masses

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 24, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that

Asheron’s Call TM ,”
a massively multiplayer online game, is off to a strong start now that it has reached its full U.S. retail release. Highly anticipated by computer game fans and acclaimed in previews by the games press,
“Asheron’s Call”
immerses thousands of players in a dynamic virtual world rich with adventure, magic and mystery.

Playable exclusively on the MSN TM Gaming Zone ( ),
“Asheron’s Call”
has already become the No. 1 game on the Zone.
“There are over a hundred games available for play on the Zone, and ‘Asheron’s Call’ broke all previous game records in little over a week,”
said Adam Waalkes, product unit manager for the MSN Gaming Zone.
“More people play ‘Asheron’s Call’ during peak times than any other game the Zone has ever offered.”

In addition,
“Asheron’s Call”
has quickly climbed the sales charts. According to The NPD Group’s Interactive Entertainment Service,
“Asheron’s Call”
was among the top five best-selling PC games during its first two weeks of limited availability (Oct. 31-Nov. 13).

Developed by the creative minds at Turbine Entertainment,
“Asheron’s Call”
transports players to the mystical Island of Dereth, an expansive world of more than 500 square miles, where they can explore a rugged landscape that ranges from icy tundra to desert wasteland. Summoned by the ancient magician Asheron to rid the land of the ferocious monsters that roam the countryside, players must choose to compete or cooperate with thousands of other real people. Players can create customized characters by selecting from an extensive array of physical characteristics, attributes and skills to improve their chances of success and survival in the land of Dereth.

“Although the massively multiplayer genre is still in its infancy, the early success of ‘Asheron’s Call’ clearly proves the growing popularity of this gaming category,”
Waalkes said.
“The holiday season is only now beginning, and we have already had tens of thousands of people log on and play. It is really exciting to see the success of games such as ‘Asheron’s Call.'”

About the MSN Gaming Zone

The MSN Gaming Zone is one of the largest gaming communities on the Internet, with 10 million registered members from around the world, more than 50,000 concurrent users at peak times, and more than 100 games available for play. The Zone offers free* membership and a wide variety of games, including free* card, board and puzzle games, free* matchmaking for popular CD-ROM games, and premium games.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

*Connect-time charges may apply.

“Asheron’s Call”
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.

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