Turner Plunges Into Broadband Gaming

Aug 15, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Turner Broadcasting plans to kick off a 10-city marketing tour this month in support of the Oct. 3 launch of its broadband gaming service GameTap.

The details and cities are still being ironed out, but the marketing road show will essentially let consumers demo the gaming service before its launch. As part of the hands-on strategy, Turner also announced that music fans can test the service in the so-called GameTap Gaming Den at the U.S. Download Music Festival, set for Oct. 8 in San Francisco.

What’s more, a few weeks before the launch of the service, Turner will heavily promote GameTap in its sister properties, including TNT, TBS, AOL, Cartoon Network and Time magazine.

Blake Lewin, VP of product development and innovation at Turner, said GameTap is the first new network Turner has launched since Turner South five years ago. “[GameTap] is a broadband entertainment network,” he said. “It’s meant to feel immersive. It’s meant to feel like a network.”

The $14.95-per-month subscription service will include 300 games at launch, with about five to 10 new games added each week. GameTap has licensed nearly 1,000 games so far for the platform.

Part of the GameTap marketing effort included press demonstrations last week in San Francisco.

To play, GameTap users download an application at GameTap.com. The games won’t reside on users’ computers, but the interface will. The interface takes over the full screen of the computer monitor in the same way that a DVD fills the screen when played on a computer. The user can navigate via a keyboard, a mouse or a USB game controller to check out the different gaming areas in the main Vault section of the service. GameTap will also feature about 20 minutes each week of fresh video content, such as promotional video on the games and new features, such as “Five Most Wicked Ninja Tools.” The video features a regular GameTap host.

That’s essentially the same model TBS uses with the interstitial packaging built around its “Dinner and a Movie” franchise.

Once a user clicks on a game, he or she will be able to select additional content, including original commercials from games, such as a 1980s spot advertising the “Pitfall Harry” game.

Games on the service include classic arcade games such as “Pac-Man” and “Centipede” as well as newer games such as “Tom Clancy Splinter Cell” and “Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc.” When the classic games are played, they look exactly like they did on a 1980s Atari console, with pixilated flat-screen graphics. That’s the point, Mr. Lewin said. “People respond emotionally to games in the same way they do to music and films,” he said.

GameTap is not a retro service, though. The access for newer and classic games resides in a 3-D interface that has the look and feel of today’s multimedia applications.

Mr. Lewin said he’s looking for a general manager for the service-someone who is passionate about games and knowledgeable about network programming. The job will be based in Atlanta.