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AOL launches site for video games

America Online on Wednesday unveiled a video game site for high-speed subscribers, a bid to attract more customers toward the broadband service it sees as key to its future growth.
/ Source: Reuters

America Online on Wednesday unveiled a video game site for high-speed subscribers, a bid to attract more customers toward the broadband service it sees as key to its future growth.

AOL, which has faced declines in its dial-up subscriber base and speculation that parent Time Warner Inc. may spin it off, has been aggressively promoting AOL for Broadband as an alternative for people looking to get more out of their Internet connections.

"It's vitally important strategically that we continue to grow the AOL for Broadband service," Matthew Bromberg, vice president and general manager of AOL Games, told Reuters. "Nothing is more popular with broadband users than games."

AOL said it would offer members discounts on games of up to $15 in some cases, and other special promotional offers, through a partnership with the Web site of specialty games retailer Electronics Boutique Holdings Corp.

In addition to the games it already offers from Electronic Arts Inc.'s Club Pogo, AOL said it would add games and game demos from companies including TryMedia, GameHouse and Funkitron. They offer titles like "Scrabble," "Slingo," "Mah Jong" and "Daily Jigsaw," among others.

Many of the games, AOL said, are of the type that often appeal to women gamers. Its own research has found that women over 40 are the most frequent online gamers, more so than men or teenage boys, and some of the games were chosen with those demographics in mind.

The site will also provide game reviews, screenshots and other items from leading games Web site GameSpot, as well as original video programming featuring game play hints, celebrity interviews and game reviews.

One of the new video programs is "Face Off," in which AOL members will compete on PC and console games against a regular group of players.

"It's sort of 'American Gladiators' meets gaming by way of music videos," Bromberg said.

AOL will showcase the new site next week during E3, the annual video game industry trade show in Los Angeles. More than 60,000 people are expected to attend the event in Los Angeles.