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Real issues GamePass in sub battle

Deal lets Netizens nab new games from RealOne Arcade

HOLLYWOOD — RealNetworks has launched GamePass for its RealOne Arcade service, the latest piece of the Internet software giant’s subscription puzzle.

GamePass enables Netizens to acquire new games from RealOne Arcade on a regular basis, with subscribers paying $6.95 per month for the service. Gamers keep any titles they buy, at prices ranging from $9.99 to $19.99.

Members also receive a $5 discount on any additional games purchased during that month.

Subs to RealNetworks’ RealOne service can subscribe to GamePass for $4.95.

For their membership, users receive one credit per month toward a free game download, which they can use to acquire any of about 90 titles in the RealOne Arcade catalog, provided by large publishers such as Sierra, Infogrames and Activision, as well as smaller gamemakers.

Old-school gaming

Many of the games offered are simple puzzle and card titles, such as mahjong, or old-school arcade-like actioners like bowling or baseball that appeal to people who don’t spend a lot of time playing games and don’t necessarily care whether the titles are exclusive. Service’s customer base is 40% outside the U.S. and 50% female.

“We’re going for a mass-market consumer, not your typical core gamer,” said Andrew Wright, general manager of RealOne Arcade.

Heavy competish

RealNetworks has spent the past year rolling out subscription video and audio services through its RealOne offering as a way to beef up revenues through exclusive content.

With online gaming now expected to be a major moneymaker, RealNetworks is hoping to capitalize on RealOne Arcade, which bowed in May 2001 and competes with strong rivals such as Yahoo!, Flipside, AtomShockwave and MSN’s the Zone.

RealOne Arcade claimed consumers have downloaded more than 5 million copies of the software and 20 million individual games, mostly for free.

About 700,000 games have been sold to RealOne Arcade users, which RealNetworks hopes will entice game developers to focus on releasing their titles on RealOne Arcade.

Game developers make an estimated $500,000 in revenues annually per game on the service.

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