RealNetworks to rent online video games

Streaming media provider RealNetworks plans to launch the final, non-test version of its RealArcade video game software, including a new online game rental section that will serve as the largest test yet of a still-unproven delivery system.

The system, which uses technology for streaming games, rather than downloading them over the Internet, will allow users to rent PC-based video games and play them online, the company said.

The rental system was not present in the test version of the software, which launched in May.

There are no downloads involved except for a small piece of software from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Into Networks that loads the software into a buffer as it downloads, the companies said.

This new platform comes at a time when physical video game rentals have fallen sharply.

Through the week ending September 23, video game rentals were down 12 percent over 2000, according to the VidTrac report from the Video Software Dealers Association.

The RealArcade software is free but it will cost US$4.99 to rent access to one game for seven days, or US$14.99 to access all of the games on the site for one month.

That monthly rental fee will be discounted to US$9.99 for the first month, said Paul Thelen, group product manager for RealArcade.

The rental section will launch with 11 games, including titles like "Deus Ex" and "Unreal Tournament," with plans to add three to four games every month, Thelen said.

News source: ZDnet Australia

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