ENGAGE GAMES ONLINE ANNOUNCES FIRST INVESTOR
IRVINE, Calif. (July 10, 1996) - ENGAGE Games Online announced today that SOFTBANK Holdings Inc. has made a substantial investment in the company by acquiring 20% of its outstanding shares. SOFTBANK will also get a seat on the ENGAGE board of directors. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed.
SOFTBANK is the first outside company to invest in ENGAGE since it was spun off by Interplay Productions this past May.
SOFTBANK Holdings' stake in ENGAGE represents the latest in a series of strategic investments in Internet content and infrastructure companies. This particular investment reinforces the current market opinion that online multi-player games will represent a substantial portion of revenue generated online. ENGAGE will now be able to access resources within SOFTBANK's broad array of venture investments, which include Yahoo! Inc., CyberCash Inc., US Web and Internet Profiles Corp. (I/PRO). ENGAGE will also benefit from initiatives of SOFTBANK's Ziff-Davis Publishing subsidiary, including Sendai Publishing Group and SOFTBANK Interactive Marketing.
"After a thorough examination of the emerging online multi-player games industry, we found that ENGAGE's business plan and operational strategies made the most sense and dovetail quite well with our own online strategies," said Gary Rieschel, senior vice president of SOFTBANK Holdings Inc. "We anticipate that the synergy between ENGAGE's strong content, significant online management experience and advanced technology, and the diverse services and technologies represented by other companies in which SOFTBANK has investment positions, will allow ENGAGE to create the most robust online gaming service with broad consumer appeal."
"We are extremely pleased to announce SOFTBANK as the first investment partner in ENGAGE," said Jeff Leibowitz, president of ENGAGE. "SOFTBANK's vote of confidence is strong validation of our unique technology and strategy for creating the ultimate online multi-player games and entertainment service. Their substantial interest in the global online community will enable us to better realize the vast potential of ENGAGE."
Online users will access ENGAGE games and other entertainment content through a consistent and intuitive Windows 95-based graphically rich, animated 2-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, MUD II and AD&D: Descent to Undermountain from Interplay Productions; Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness from Blizzard Entertainment; Fighter Duel II and Total Control Football from Philips Media; 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 casino games from Caesars Palace Virtual Casino, comedy via The Improvisation Online and comprehensive music content from the new cyber-version of the soon-to-open 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.
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