If you want to play a huge library of games without a console or software, try GameTap. It's Turner Broadcasting's new online videogame network. It's essentially a mirror of the company's pay-cable channel that has been a wild success.
In 2006, subscribers played more than 20 million games from the GameTap "vault" - more than 54,000 a day.
Now the sister website has been launched, featuring Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Through a "game changing" deal with publisher Eidos, GameTap made the title available to its paying subscribers and for purchase at GameTap.com's new digital retail store on the same date it hit U.S. retail shelves.
"This is the first new deal with a major game publisher that will enable GameTap to feature the hottest games of today and tomorrow for subscription play in the same windows as traditional retail outlets," said Stuart Snyder, GameTap's senior vice president and general manager.
GameTap's library has nearly tripled in size since the network launched in October 2005, and GameTap has added over 500 games as well as more than 600 new content pieces to GameTap TV. Last quarter, subscriptions were up nearly three-fold, and the network has expanded into Canada.
The website version bowed on May 31 and offers more than 30 free games, with new ones being added each month. Launch titles included Metal Slug from SNK Playmore, Taito's Bust-A-Move and Space Invaders, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend from Eidos, as well as Midway titles Joust, Robotron: 2084, and Rampage.
Visitors to the website will get original programming from GameTap TV, which features top music acts and celebrities weighing in on their favorite games, as well as original content like the GameTap Retrospectives series and the all-new Re\Visioned series, animated episodes that have well-known comic book artists and writers reinvent popular game icons.
VIDEOGAME SALES UP AGAIN
After a sluggish April, the NPD Group, which tracks game trends, thinks May is going to be a great month for gaming. It's forecasting game sales to be up 15 to 20 percent in April thanks to titles like Spider-Man 3 and Mario Party 8. It thinks hardware sales will be up too, though the struggling PS3 unit will continue to flounder, it feels, until there is a price cut and the PS3 gets a "better differentiated software lineup, which are more likely 2008 events, in our opinion.
Are you ready for some football?
It's not too far away for game lovers. On July 17, EA Sports releases NCAA 08. Madden come three weeks later on Aug. 14. This year, 2K Sports is back in the game, with All-Pro Football 2K8, also releasing Aug. 14.
You'll remember that before Electronic Arts signed an exclusive agreement with the NFL a few years back, 2K was building serious momentum with its football title, but has not released one since it lost its NFL license.
The new game will use the likenesses of more than 200 retired NFL stars. Since they can't use real stadiums or team names, users will create teams and stadiums and uniforms, down the socks. There's no dynasty mode because there's no team history, but it'll be fun to see if 2K can recapture some of the audience it was building.
News N Notes
-- PQ2: Practical Intelligence Quotient 2 from D3Publisher of America, Inc. is available now. Players calculate their intelligence by using the PQ scoring system based on the number of moves and the speed with which they complete more than 250 puzzles.
-- Electronic Arts is planning SimCity Societies for Christmas. It allows players to construct not only the cities they desire, but create their cultures, societal behaviors and environments as well.
-- K2, Ltd., the creative minds behind Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven, have released Tenchu Z exclusively for the Xbox 360. The title is the first mission-based ninja stealth action game for the Xbox 360, and allows players to hone their stealth skills while slaying enemies to become the ultimate ninja. Patience and strategy, with use of the stealth kill system, is rewarded over a run-and-gun style of hand-to-hand combat.
-- NAMCO BANDAI Games announced today that NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja 2 has shipped. Ninja training and heated combat returns with the highly-anticipated sequel of the popular NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja. In the new game, fans will experience more than 60 challenging missions to complete and the ability to play as one of over 30 popular ninja from the series, including Kakashi, Sasuke, Kisame, Itachi, and Tsunade.
-- Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal will be the cover athlete and spokesman for NHL 08, Electronic Arts hockey sim. Staal, 23, has played four seasons and scored a combined 75 goals over the past 2 seasons, notched 100 points in 2006, and was voted into his first All-Star game in 2007.
-- Electronic Arts today announced a commitment to bring its portfolio of hit games to Mac OS X. The first EA Mac titles slated to ship this summer include Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Need for Speed Carbon, Battlefield 2142 and Command &Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars. Later this year, EA will ship Madden NFL 08 and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 08 in sync with their worldwide launches