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HEARD ON THE BEAT

Games on the Net

March 17, 1997|GREG MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Engage Games Online, a company created by Irvine-based Interplay Productions to establish an interactive games service on the Internet, opened its Web site to the public last week.

The service is still not up to full speed, but it does have about seven games that players from virtually anywhere can play over the Internet.

Engage is one of a handful of companies venturing into the largely uncharted territory of online computer game competition. Many in the industry believe that the Internet will someday account for a huge portion of the computer game market, and that players will flock to online services that let them compete against one another, compare notes or just talk trash.

Engage officials said their service did well when it was offered for free to testers on the Internet and in America Online in recent months. But it remains to be seen how many people will be willing to pay for the service.

Engage hopes to make some money through selling advertising space on its Web site, and has devised a two-tier pricing structure. Players willing to put up with ad displays pay $1.95 per hour. For those who want to avoid the ads, it's $2.50 per hour.

Players have to have PCs with Windows 95, at least 16 megabytes of memory and a 14.4 Kbps modem or better. They also have to download a hefty chunk of software, a process that can take the better part of an hour.

The site can be found at http://www.engagegames.com.

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