Turner has announced that several new features broadening its GameTap subscription PC 'all you can eat' gaming service, including a free to play, ad-supported version of the service launching May 31st, and a new digital retail storefront debuting with Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary.
According to the company, it will be introducing an advertising-supported program at GameTap.com, aimed at capturing a larger audience of "mainstream gamers" who normally flock to major casual game portals.
Debuting on May 31st, 2007, GameTap.com will offer more than 30 free games, with more added every week, from the most popular game franchises of all time. Launch titles include 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.
"While our paid membership model has attracted serious gamers, another class of player is coming to GameTap.com in droves," said Snyder. "Mainstream gamers want to play dynamic games they can access at work, home or anywhere, and aren't satisfied with the current portal offerings like card games and checkers. They want action/adventure, racing, sports, and fighting titles alongside the arcade classics."
In addition, those visiting GameTap.com will also get access to programming from GameTap TV, as well as original content like the GameTap Retrospectives series and the new Re\Visioned series, animated episodes that have well-known comic book artists and writers reinvent popular game icons. They will also have access to the new digital retail storefront, which will offer "hundreds of the best new and catalogue PC games" for purchase.
The first game that will be launched in GameTap's new day-and-date subscription play and digital retail model is Eidos' Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and GameTap will make the title available to its paying subscribers and for purchase at GameTap.com's new digital retail store on the same date it hits U.S. retail shelves.
The service also revealed some statistics from its digital service thus far. In 2006, subscribers played more than 20 million games from the GameTap "vault" -more than 54,000 a day. The vault itself 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.