MSN Looks to Subscription Gaming for New Revenues

MSN rolls out a minor upgrade to MSN Messenger and introduces four new online games as part of the launch.

MSN is looking to grow revenues in areas beyond online advertising by adding new subscription services to its repertoire.

Microsofts online subsidiary has supplemented its handful of existing subscription-based services with four, new, paid subscription games, the company announced on Thursday.

MSN is launching the new games, branded under "MSN Instant Games Clubhouse," simultaneously with MSN Messenger 6.2, a minor release of its instant-messaging platform. The MSN online games have no connection with Microsofts Xbox Live games or gaming service, company officials noted.

On Thursday, as part of its fiscal 2004 third quarter earnings announcement, Microsoft said that MSN revenues grew to $591 million, up 16 percent from its FY 2003 Q3 level. The MSN business unit was buoyed largely by MSN advertising revenue, which grew 43 percent during the quarter.

The four new games which MSN expects to roll out by Friday — Wheel of Fortune, Upwords (a word game), Bankshot Billiards (online pool) and MSN Instant Games Chess — were developed jointly by Microsoft and partners. Customers need MSN Messenger 6.1 or 6.2 to play the new games. The games can be played over dial-up or broadband by single users or "head-to-head" between two individuals.

The new paid games supplement the handful of free games that MSN introduced with MSN Messenger 6.0. These include: Bejeweled, Checkers, Cubis, Hexic, Minesweeper Flags, Mozaki Blocks and Solitaire Showdown.

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