ENGAGE AND DIGITAL ALCHEMY TO OPEN
HUMAN BEANS CAFE
IRVINE, CALIF. (August 21, 1996) - ENGAGE Games Online announced today it has entered into an exclusive online content distribution deal with Digital Alchemy, a unique multimedia production company created by former CNN bureau chief Chip Walter and actor Michael Keaton to develop broad-appeal lifestyle interactive content. The first product to come out of this relationship will be Human Beans, the world's first virtual coffee house - one that is rich with personable characters, amusing games, fascinating trivia and a fine brew of information about the world's most popular addiction - coffee. ENGAGE Games Online will be launching its new multi-player games and entertainment service later this summer on America Online and Prodigy followed by a fall debut on the Internet and other major online services.
Human Beans, being developed as an online/CD hybrid product, is a coffee drinker's 3-D fantasy world. Users will be able to indulge in tasty conversation with other aficionados; visit the kitchen to meet the Human Beans tm animated head chef who will share his secret recipes; chat with celebrities, authors and other fascinating people from a wide variety of fields; compete for prizes, play trivia games; stop by the serving counter to learn how to brew a perfect steaming cup of joe; explore the history of coffee as well as where and how the best beans in the world are grown; and order everything from gourmet blends to exotic espresso makers. If users miss any of the cafe's live chats, they'll be able to download audio on demand and listen to the exclusive interviews in real time. Human Beans tm is also laden with hot spots staffed by witty, animated characters who will guide users throughout their visit.
"We were attracted to Human Beans because the online world is actually based on community, and this is going to be a rich, unique gathering place built around the world's most popular drink," said Jeff Leibowitz, president of ENGAGE. "Not only does it have the potential to attract a widely diverse audience but it will enhance our community appeal and complement ENGAGE's lineup of popular games and entertainment content. We're looking forward to a long and profitable relationship with the creative forces behind Digital Alchemy and to introducing the rich Human Beans™ world to our members."
"We're excited about working with ENGAGE on this," said Digital Alchemy's CEO Chip Walter. "The way we see it, Human Beanstm is going to be a place so fascinating and fun you just won't be able to stay away. Because it's a CD/online hybrid, it'll deliver a rich three dimensional world where people can really plug in -- visit, shop and play; explore and exchange all kinds of ideas and information with the most interesting people in the world. For us, ENGAGE provides the perfect platform for accomplishing all of that. The management and technical team that Jeff Leibowitz has assembled is as good as it gets in the online business, and having the marketing support and audience pull of such a premier service is a terrific asset."
"This is going to be fun, a lot of fun," said Michael Keaton, star of Multiplicity and other blockbusters like Batman and Mr. Mom. "I've been increasingly fascinated by the online and interactive worlds, and I think the idea of taking a great tradition like the coffee house into cyberspace makes enormous sense. Like all great cafes, Human Beans is going to be the online version of that place you have to stop by and visit every day because you never know who or what you'll find when you get there. I know I'll be stopping in. I'm particularly happy to be working with ENGAGE because the service is such a strong concept, and Jeff and his team really understood what we had in mind from the start."
Online users will access ENGAGE games and other entertainment content through a consistent and intuitive Windows 95-based graphically rich, animated 2-D or 3-D interface, regardless of whether they access ENGAGE from the major online services or from various World Wide Web sites on the Internet. In addition, chat areas, bulletin boards and other service areas will be accessible through the graphical front end.
ENGAGE will feature an impressive array of high-end multi-player games as well as some less intense fare for non-gamer members of the family. Almost all of ENGAGE's titles are worldwide exclusives including such best sellers as: Descent Online, Castles II, the US Chess Federation and AD&D: Descent to Undermountain from Interplay Productions: Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness from Blizzard Entertainment: Total Control Football from Philips Media plus Rolemaster: Magestorm and Splatterball from Interworld Productions. Also available on ENGAGE are Sim City 2000 from Maxis and high-profile, broad appeal entertainment content such as Caesars Palace Virtual Casino, comedy via The Improvisation Online and comprehensive music content from the cyber-version of the new Billboard Live! music clubs. ENGAGE will offer as many as 15 games by the end of 1996 and then plans to add about one additional game each month.
Digital Alchemy, created by screenwriter, filmmaker and former CNN bureau chief Chip Walter, is a multimedia production company focusing on targeted markets traditionally serviced by specialty magazines and cable television. Future projects will span a broad horizon but will all relate to subjects that reflect people's interests and passions. "We want to tap into the subjects which are personally important to people and then use interactive technology to provide them with one stop shopping for information, communication and service," said Walter. "We see ourselves as a kind of digital butler looking out for people's needs. We're all busy these days, after all, so who can't use a little help." Adds Keaton, in a reference to his latest feature film Multiplicity, "It's the next best thing to cloning."
Digital Alchemy brings a number of heavy hitters to this endeavor, notably founding investor, actor Michael Keaton. The company is represented by powerhouse talent agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and counts among its clients the National Geographic Society.
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