Disney, Into join for web vidgame channel

Mouse gunning for Sony's Station in pay-for-play

Disney Interactive has inked a deal with Into Networks’ PlayNow.com service to create the Disney Interactive Channel, enabling Netizens to play Mouse House-branded vidgames online against other users for a fee.

Move signals that Disney’s vidgaming subsid is attempting to create an online destination for gaming fans similar to the Station, which Sony set up to feature interactive editions of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.”

“The Disney Interactive software channel extends the reach of our content to consumers who have already seen the value of the broadband Internet access and are now looking for branded, mainstream-rich content,” Disney Interactive prexy Jan Smith said.

The channel will offer Netizens a choice of 12 Disney Interactive titles on a pay-to-play basis. The titles are likely to be distribbed over high-speed Internet services available from cable set-top box providers that Into Networks has already partnered with, including Excite@Home, Road Runner, Time Warner, US West and Media One.

Games will be based on Disney pics such as “The Lion King,” “Toy Story” and “Tarzan.” Other titles will include “Disney’s Magic Art Studio” and “Princess Fashion Boutique.” Idea is to enable consumers to be able to sample games before paying. Similarly, Blockbuster Video already enables consumers to rent games for the Nintendo and PlayStation consoles.

Disney has yet to set prices for the titles skedded to hit PlayNow in September.

Currently, Into rents software for $2.99 for 48 hours at a time or $5.99 for 30 days. Into currently operates 100 channels of entertainment, education or productivity software via cable set top boxes for $9.99 a month from software makers that include GT Interactive, Interplay and Scientific Learning.

Into Networks also announced $36.6 million in private equity funding from investors including cablers Adelphia and Cox Communications, as well as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

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