REDMOND, Wash., July 30, 2002 — In response to high consumer demand, Zone.com ( http://www.zone.com/ ), the MSN®
network of Internet services’ exclusive games channel, has expanded to include a new downloadable games hub featuring premium versions of the Web’s most popular casual games. Deluxe versions of
“Bejeweled,” “Mah Jong Tiles”
headline the new hub, providing players with offline gameplay flexibility, advanced 3-D graphics, pause and save options, full-screen capabilities and other enhancements not found in the online versions. The downloadable games are available for a one-time fee of $19.95 per title.
“Today’s casual game players want bigger, better, premium offline versions of the online games they love to play,”
said Don Ryan, Zone.com studio manager.
“The success of ‘Bejeweled Deluxe’ and ‘Mah Jong Tiles Deluxe’ proves that casual gamers want compelling online game experiences with enhanced features and offline capabilities, and are willing to pay for them.”
The new downloadable products add another strong revenue pillar to Zone.com’s already successful business model currently focused on advertising, sponsorships and premium game subscription services. “Bejeweled Deluxe” set the tone for Zone.com’s downloadable service, a service featuring only top-tier, deluxe versions of today’s most popular casual online games.
PopCap Games and GameHouse Inc., two of today’s top casual game developers, are finding success in Zone.com’s downloadable games service, averaging more downloads on Zone.com than on any other site hosting their games, which they credit to Zone.com’s strong marketing focus on supporting the service, elite titles and a massive online community.
“Zone.com’s excellent selection of downloadable games reinforces its commitment to only offer its members high-quality, engaging entertainment,”
said John Vechey, CEO of PopCap Games, developer of
“Bejeweled Deluxe.” “Zone.com’s casual gamers can be assured they will find only the best downloadable games on the site, reaffirming their decision to purchase.”
“With a huge community and high peak concurrent user numbers, Zone.com is a pivotal site for online entertainment, and an important avenue for game developers to distribute games to a diverse audience,”
said Ron Powers, vice president of GameHouse, developer of
“Mah Jong Tiles Deluxe.”
According to GameHouse, Zone.com’s sales numbers for
“Mah Jong Tiles Deluxe”
are more than four times higher than those for any other site hosting the game. The original online-only version of
“Mah Jong Tiles”
as the No. 1 game played on Zone.com, a position
held for nearly two years.
With more than 73 million people playing games online today, and more than 114 million people expected to play by 2006,* Internet gaming embodies online entertainment for the mass market. The majority of online gamers are casual players, individuals who enjoy playing a quick game of
as a brief at-work coffee break or at-home diversion. Zone.com’s peak play hours are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. PDT, with women making up 76 percent of the site’s audience for casual games.
Casual online game aficionados looking for anytime, anywhere availability can download deluxe versions of
“Bejeweled,” “Alchemy,” “Dynomite,” “Mummy Maze”
“Mah Jong Tiles”
at http://www.zone.com/ . Soon the enhanced versions of
also will be available there. These offerings bolster Zone.com’s comprehensive selection of games, which currently includes more than 150 free** online single-player and multiplayer games, retail matchmaking services, and premium massively multiplayer games.
About PopCap Games
PopCap Games is a Seattle-based development house focused on creating simple yet addictive games for the mass market. They are the creators of the wildly popular
which won Computer Gaming World’s Premier Award for Best Puzzle Game of 2001, along with nearly a dozen other popular Web games such as
“Atomica,” “Mummy Maze,” “Big Money”
Founded in 2000, PopCap Games is focused on creating
“games you can bring home to Mom”
: easy-to-learn, accessible titles that are still deep and infinitely replayable.
GameHouse Inc., based in Seattle and founded in 1998, creates realistic and dynamic game software for online and desktop entertainment. GameHouse software creates immediate revenue opportunities for partners and affiliates via advertising and direct sales of the software to the consumer. GameHouse games are played approximately 50 million times each month, captivating players for an average of 40 minutes per session. More information on GameHouse can be found online at http://www.gamehouse.com/ .
Zone.com, the exclusive MSN games channel ( http://www.zone.com/ ), has been recognized as a leader in the online games industry since its launch in 1996. Zone.com hosts more than 29 million members, 150,000 concurrent users at peak times, and a diverse selection of more than 150 games. Zone.com has become the online destination for gaming enthusiasts and entertainment seekers looking for fun interactive online gameplay by providing users with free** casual single-player and multiplayer games, PC retail matchmaking services, downloadable and premium massively multiplayer games.
About Microsoft Game Studios
Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the PC, Xbox (TM) video game system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse game portfolios for the PC ( http://www.microsoft.com/games/ ), including such franchises as
“Age of Empires® ,” “Flight Simulator”
“Zoo Tycoon (TM)”
; Xbox ( http://www.xbox.com/ ), including such franchises as
“Halo (TM),” “Project Gotham Racing (TM)”
; and Zone.com ( http://zone.msn.com/ ), the official games channel for the MSN network and home to such hits as
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies 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.
* DFC Intelligence Report (June 2002)
** Connection availability and charges may apply.
Microsoft, MSN, Xbox, Halo, Project Gotham Racing, Age of Empires, Zoo Tycoon and Outsmart are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
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Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. Journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team for additional assistance.