America Online debuts gaming service

The new service integrates online games and AOL(r) Instant Messenger(tm) functionality, allowing users to invite their buddies to play a wide selection of WildTangent games and to instant messageduring game play.

A preview of the AIM Games service is available today by downloading a beta version of AIM 5.5 at www.aim.com. AIM Games will be fully integrated in the next version of the AIM software (AIM 5.5).

“Online gaming is a natural extension of the social interaction that takes place among our AIM members today and we think users prefer to play online games with their friends, just like they do in the real world,” said Edmund Fish, Senior Vice President and General Manager, AOL Desktop Messaging. “In partnership with WildTangent, we’ve leveraged our instant messaging community to create a platform for the development and distribution of premium online games enhanced by presence and messaging.”

“Partnering with AOL allowed us the exciting opportunity to innovate a new interactive way to play online games’ with friends, family and online game enthusiasts everywhere,” said Alex St. John, CEO and co-founder, WildTangent. “Through the creation of “buddy-enabled” games and with the help of AIM?s active online community, WildTangent and AOL are bringing online gaming to a wider audience and creating more appeal by combining fun games with instant online communication.” America Online and WildTangent have teamed to create an instant messaging based online game service that is seamlessly integrated into the familiar AIM experience. By incorporating AIM’s Buddy List feature and creating a simple, easy to navigate game play interface, the two companies are making online gaming easier to initiate and ultimately more fun by adding a real time communications element to what has already become one of the most popular entertainment activities online.

By clicking on the “games” button within the AIM Buddy List feature, users can find and invite friends to compete in games ranging from popular puzzle and arcade games like Blasterball 2 and Bounce Symphony to a number of popular multiplayer games. Not only can AIM users invite and play online games with others but they can also instant message with those they?re playing with, making for a more interactive and competitive gaming environment. WildTangent is providing games, backend systems, leader boards and billing for the AIM Games beta.

The beta version of AIM Games includes both for-pay “try and buy” and sponsored games, including two free games sponsored by dnL, a soft drink from the makers of 7 UP.

“AIM Games provides a great way to build brand awareness for dnL. We want dnL in places where people get together to have fun with friends, which is what this new technology is all about,” said Mel Davis, brand manager for dnL.

Additional games will be added to the service on an ongoing basis.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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