Daily News from New York, New York on September 28, 1997 · 474
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Daily News from New York, New York · 474

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New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 28, 1997
Page:
474
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TAKE A FALL AT THESE WEB SITES PAGE 44 THESE LEVELS ARE A MONSTER ON CD-ROM PAGE 46 ( x 'v it (f id w d W tl w ii ft m Si I KM most doubling in revenue each year. And he faces some powerful competitors in behemoths like Mi crosoft and America Online. "EVeryone has been waiting for Ultima Online to release to find out whether or not online games are really going to work," said Williams. While online games $150 million makes up only a tiny fraction of the overall $4 billion video game market, Forrester Research estimates that it will balloon to $278 million next year and will grow to $1.6 billion by 2001. Still, a budding industry con tinues to hunt for ways to be profitable. After America Online suffered public outrage when it started charging its sub scribers for premium games, some experts felt that advertising remains the most viable money maker for the game companies. But Ultima Online, which charges a $9.95 monthly fee on top of having consumers pay a hefty $70 for the CD-ROM in stores, may change the formula and competitors fear that Origin may pose a serious threat It's "the first truly commercial product the average consumer would go out and buy and get involved with," said analyst David Cole. Experts cite the familiar brand name as they see potential for a big hit among online gamers. "Origin is already going after an installed, dedicated base of customers. It's a best-case scenario," said Forrester Research's online gaming analyst Seema Chowdhury Williams. ! l " For the game to be a moderate success, she es-! timates that Origin will need to sell 300,000 copies of the game in stores. That matches her estimate '-" of the number of dedicated players who are likely to give the online version a try. A GROWING CROWD -n; ; Well over 55 game developers and more than 20 game networks, like Microsoft and AOL, are vying -i for the hearts, minds, and wallets of the estimated - 2.5 million gamers. And others are entering the -! : market every week. fflk Origin Systems is facing off against high-tech titans like Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone, ."America Online, Segasoft's HEAT.NET and le-m :gions of others. 0;. ; ",!i:-Tf. ;: 1 It UP i i I America Online alone boasts that over 30 of their 9 million members have visited their free and premium games area since it relaunched in July. They charge players of their premium, higher quality games $1.99 an hour to play. Meanwhile, Segasoft is turning up the flame with its own HEAT.NET, which launches next month. Over 60,000 people are currently testing the system and they have plans to enable 200,000 subscribers to log on at once. These sheer numbers may be hard to beat, but Gar-riot can flex some muscle of his own. The Ultima line of games remains one of the most successful franchises in the history of video games it's seen eight updates and over 2 million copies sold worldwide. Even before its release, more than 25,000 testers paid $2 to sign on as game testers. They broke an online game record last month when their computers registered over 2,800 people playing the game simultaneously. To put that in perspective, most games log in four to eight players. With such pre-release momentum, he's playing a strong hand that Ultima Online will attract the strong core market that's played his games through his company's 15-year history. Now he hopes they follow him to the Net FROM THE GARAGE One of the most commercially successful franchises in video game history was born out of Gar-riot's parents' garage in 1982. After getting his computer programing chops stumbling through Ultima I, II and III, he co-founded Origin Systems in 1982 with his brother Robert and $70,000 from savings, parents and private investors. "Every night, we'd go out to the garage and fold boxes, copy disks and stuff them and shrink-wrap them for shipping," remembers the 36-year-old Garriot of his video game heydays. The fourth episode in the Ultima line, 1984's Ultima iy set the stage for the young upstart after it sold 200,000 a phenomenal sales figure. Origin became the new darling of the industry. In 1992, it merged with the San Mateo, Calif.-based video game goliath Electronic Arts a deal reportedly worth $30 million. Garriot's tiny garage-based home business of him and his friends had swollen to become a 270-employe, multi-million-dollar player in the market SOME REAL CHARACTERS To meet the mavens of Brittania, the latest virtual world online, please turn to Page 47. SATURDAY, OCX 4 2 p.m. Michael Banks on CompuServe, Discuss his latest book, "Web Psychos, Stalkers and Pranksters.' Location: Internet Work) Magazine Forum. 60: IWFORUM 11 p.m. Gil Ametio, former , Apple Computer CEO, on the Internet, Discuss computer industry. URL: http:www.talkcity.com !J!!i!! Women's Heefth wofnsJuhRjwt find a wealth of information on breast cancer, obesity and other topics at the free Sapient Health Network's site devoted to woman's health service. Vbu can key in your profile to receive information tailored to your needs. Its breast cancer discussion board atone boasts 4,000 members. Dlaney OnSne : to-the-minute profiles and trivia games involving characters featured on the show, as weft as audio and video clips of "Toy Story" characters. Comedy Central Stan. Cartman and Chef in two games on the site. Starting tonight "The Wonderful World of Disney" returns to ABC. and you can find tons of fun facts about the program at this official Disney site. Check out up- Tbe thigh-banging, gut-busting wit that is "South Park," Comedy Central's newest animated program, finally hits the Net on the station's homepage. There, find games and a new realtime chat area where you can boogie with real people or characters from the series. Join Kenny, Kyle, : Drop us a line at the section's E-mail address, tectnonenydaffynewej. com. Or write the old-fashioned way to TechZone, Dmlneee Section, Daly News, 450 W. 33d St, New YmK, N.Y. 10001. J 1 ttadatosfc OSS $09.99 milm by Apple $30 UPG Rebate macPM ACCD 0 01 ti 'viaVoice ibm $99.99 win cd .(.ZiMuoJ Oregon Sys $ iJ.J WIN CO Win 95 Up8r.,,nSS? 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