Copyright 2002 Yahoo! Press Release

[ September 22nd 2002 ]

In its latest move to generate revenue outside online advertising, Internet portal Yahoo! is launching a fee-based service Monday that lets users download and play videogames on demand. The service will offer well-known titles that can be rented for a few days or weeks at a time and run as if the CD-ROM were bought at a store and popped into the personal computer, said Daniel Hart, Yahoo's senior director of games and entertainment.

Most of the data required to run each game is streamed to the PC over the Internet before the game is started for the first time. The program then runs off the hard drive, downloading additional files as needed. It expires at the end of the rental period. "It's a full-screen, rich audiovisual experience - exactly like a CD from a store," Hart said. Other Internet gaming sites typically offer programs that were developed in the Java programming language or run through the Flash multimedia player.

The Yahoo service is scheduled to launch early Monday with prices ranging from $4.95 for the rental of one game for three days to $14.95 for the rental of 10 games for 30 day. About 40 games - including Grand Theft Auto 2, Skate Park Tycoon, Tomb Raider Chronicles and Backyard Basketball - will be available.

Once a game is selected, users must download a large file - up to 200 megabytes. The so-called "precaching" file remains on the computer, so subsequent starts of the same title are faster. The new service only works on Windows-based personal computers with high-speed Internet connections. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo has been launching numerous fee-based services since the collapse of the advertising market that supported the dreams of most dot-coms during the boom years.

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