Turner Broadcasting is expanding its online videogame service GameTap from a monthly subscription model to include individual games for sale and free, ad-supported titles.
Starting with Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary, from game publisher Eidos, paid GameTap subscribers will now be able to play and buy some titles the same day they are released to retail outlets. Separately, beginning May 31, the site will offer about 30 free, ad-supported games for consumers who don't want to buy a subscription.
Turner launched the site in 2005 as a way to capitalize on the multibillion dollar gaming industry and forge partnerships with cable operators looking to push their broadband services. GameTap originally offered classic arcade and PC titles, as well as video clips, for around $10-$15 per month. Having grown its stable of titles by more than 500 since then, Turner reports more than 20 million game-plays and a near-tripling in subscriptions to the site during 2006.
As young consumers increasingly turn to gaming for entertainment, TV networks and cable operators are rolling out new gaming-relating and services to keep from losing out on the market.
According to Kagan Research, sales for gaming-related products will reach $16 billion this year, a $61% jump from $9.9 billion in 2004. By 2010, some 54 million U.S. households will own at least one videogame console, according to Kagan – nearly half of the 110.2 million households that currently have TVs, according to Nielsen Media Research.