Four online companies team in GameStorm

Ushering in a more consolidated era in entertainment and gaming over the Internet, four previously unrelated companies announced Friday they would unite as GameStorm to offer a viable gaming alternative to America Online.

Unique service

Industry linchpin Kesmai Corp., a wholly owned unit of News Corp., established its GameStorm logo and Web site some months ago, but now it is being joined at the site by Sega America Corp.’s Heat.Net, Engage Games Online and editorial component GameSpot to form a unique interdependent gaming service.

“For the first time, all of the threads of this industry — massive, persistent-universe games, fast-action, head-to-head games and deep editorial content — come together in one simple package,” said Kesmai CEO Chris Holden in announcing the partnership at the online gaming conference held in Los Angeles last week.

He added that the monthly price ($9.95) allows for unlimited play, with no hourly charges such as are found on AOL’s WorldPlay gaming service.

Since each of the component services will offer its own branded game areas, the GameStorm concept is more of a confederation than a consolidation. Additionally, each component service will also continue its affiliations outside of the GameStorm site, including those with AOL.

June target

Holden said the “phase-in” schedule — meaning the time by which all the online services will be confederated — is due to be completed by June 1998.

Additionally, Kesmai announced that it is partnering with two studios on the development of two new online games: Aliens Online (20th Century Fox) and Starship Troopers: Battlespace (Sony Interactive Entertainment). Both games, when finished (tentatively by summer 1998), will be marquee attractions of the new GameStorm gaming site.

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