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GameTap is an American online video game service established by Turner Broadcasting System (TBS). Dubbed by TBS as a "first of its kind broadband gaming network", the service provides users with classic arcade, video games and game related video content.

Features

GameTap was conceived primarily as a digitally distributed subscription rental service, competing against mail-based services like GameFly. GameTap offers two subscription levels: a Premium subscription with access to the entire content library, and a Classic subscription with access to older console and arcade games running in emulation. GameTap now also sells games via the digital distribution method.[2] GameTap initially offered a limited selection of games for free play without a subscription, but this option has been discontinued.

Originally, GameTap was designed to offer not only video games, but a complete media hub (GameTap TV), taking advantage of the TBS catalog as well as offering original video content, including the animated series Re\Visioned: Tomb Raider and new episodes of Space Ghost Coast to Coast. GameTap TV has since been discontinued,[3] but its videos are now available on YouTube.[4]

Most multiplayer games can be played by two users on the same computer while many others not originally intended to be played outside of a LAN may be played over the internet by using a VPN client such as Hamachi. A limited number of games have been enhanced with an online leaderboard and challenge lobby, adding internet multiplayer to games that previously could only be played face to face. Every Monday GameTap holds a leaderboard tournament with a different game each week.[5]

GameTap Originals

GameTap has funded the development of a number of titles, with the games subsequently premiering as GameTap exclusives.[6] Such games include Sam & Max Season One and Myst Online: Uru Live.[7]

On February 7, 2007, GameTap announced their third original game, Galactic Command: Echo Squad, from independent developer 3000AD. The four-part episodic game is a space combat title formerly planned for launch in the Summer of 2007. However, it suffered from constant delays, and in early 2008, GameTap announced that it had canceled its deal with 3000AD. "It was a good game, it was very solid, but as we were going through, it ended up not being the right title for our audience," says Ricardo Sanchez. "It was a tough call. I think it’s one of the strongest games [Derek] ever made. We put a lot of effort into it...I honestly think it's one of Derek’s strongest games."[8]

On May 15, 2007, PC Gamer magazine premiered the first look at GameTap's newest original game, American McGee's Grimm Tales, a 24 part episodic series by game designer American McGee. The first episode was released on July 31, 2008. American McGee's Grimm Tales is the fourth episodic game from GameTap, making the online service the largest publisher of episodic games.[citation needed]

History

GameTap launched on 17 October 2005 with over 300 games and has grown to over 1,000. The service was the idea of Turner employee Blake Lewin.[9] The initial list of game licensees included Activision, Atari, Intellivision Lives!, Midway, Namco, Sega, and Taito. Since its inception, more companies have licensed their software, including: Eidos Interactive, G-Mode, Ubisoft, Codemasters, Vivendi Games, Konami, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Take-Two Interactive, Interplay and SNK Playmore.

On May 1, 2007, GameTap revised its business model to utilize three different service levels: Visitor, Green, and Gold. The Visitor and Green levels were free, had access to a limited selection of games, and were supported by advertising. Green members registered with the site and received access to a few more games. Gold members were essentially identical to paid subscribers as before.

On November 29, 2007, GameTap announced that on December 11 of the same year, over 70 games would be removed from their catalog, many of them Electronic Arts or Interplay titles, likely due to expiration of the two-year licensing agreement with those companies.[citation needed]

On January 10, 2008 a GameTap staff member announced the return of the Humongous Games license which restored popular games such as the likes of Putt Putt and Pajama Sam back to the library.[citation needed]

On August 6, 2008, Turner Broadcasting announced that they were looking to sell GameTap.[10] On September 24, 2008, Time Warner sold the service to Paris-based Metaboli.[11] Turner continued to handle GameTap's operations during the transition period, which lasted until 2009. After the transition, the service became available to non-US/Canadian residents.

On March 31, 2009, GameTap Player is replaced by the plug-in after saying goodbyes to their players, GameTap's business model was again changed. The GameTap Player was changed into a GameTap Plug-In; the service is now handled through the website. The subscription levels were changed to Free Pack (selected handful of games for free), a new Classic Pack (reduced-price version of the full service which does not include Windows games), and Premium Pack (the Gold membership). However, due to technical issues, many features offered previously were disabled during the migration. Users with 64-bit versions of Windows can only play games that are marked as 64-bit compatible. GameTap is currently working on encrypting the rest of their Windows catalog with Yummy encryption to make them 64-bit compatible.

Reception

GameTap was criticized for its cancellation process, which required customers to contact live support personnel. The customers were then subjected to pressure tactics to dissuade them from canceling.[12]

References

  1. GameTap. Retrieved on 2008-06-12.
  2. GameTap Utilizes Macrovision for Digital Storefront. Retrieved on 2007-07-19.
  3. Gametap - Information
  4. Gametap - Information
  5. What multiplayer games can I play in GameTap?. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29 Retrieved on 2006-08-05.
  6. GameTap Launches 'GameTap Original' Label (2006-05-09). Retrieved on 2007-04-04.
  7. Pre-E3: GameTap Signs Sam & Max, URU Live (2006-05-09). Retrieved on 2007-04-04.
  8. Alexander, Leigh (2008-02-14). GameTap Cancels Galactic Command Publishing Deal. Retrieved on 2008-04-11.
  9. A look at GameTap. Retrieved on 2008-07-12.[dead link]
  10. Gamasutra - News - Turner To Sell GameTap
  11. Gametap acquired by Metaboli, aims to create 'global gaming service'- Destructoid
  12. "VC&G Review: GameTap", Vintage Computing and Gaming, http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/97, visited June 23, 2006

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