With broadband Internet connection sweeping through the
cyberworld like a brushfire, it was inevitable that some enterprising software developer would eventually glom on to the moneymaking potential of a one-stop family entertainment node delivered via Web connection companies. According to Forrester Research, there are currently 400,000 broadband Internet users in the U.S. (up 600% from a January 1998 tally), and this number is expected to skyrocket to 15 million by 2002.
In light of this astronomical broadband market growth looming on the horizon, Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Media Station Inc. is planning the summer launch of its MediaRemote System into 40 U.S. cities. US West will offer the System to its MegaBit hook-up service subscribers for between US$8 and US$15 a month, to be tacked onto their regular service bill. More than 100 family games and
educational CD-ROM titles will be
delivered instantly in a block to the subscriber’s PC via xDSL or a cable modem broadband connection to a content site called SelectPlay. Participating families can click and play from their desktop, without having to suffer through
interminable downloads or installations. Media Station will monitor the usage level of each title on the System’s marquee, updating unpopular games once a month.
Since 1994, Media Station has worked with interactive bigwigs like Hasbro Interactive, Br¿derbund Software, Mattel, Disney, Hasbro Interactive and Houghton Mifflin. Titles that have appeared on the company’s development roster include Tonka Garage, Ariel’s Story Studio, The Lion King and The Babysitter’s Club Learning Adventures. The entire Media Station slate has collectively sold over five million units, with combined retail sales of over US$110 million.
Media Station’s VP of strategic development Allan McLennan expects industry giants will be eager to license some of these very same games for use in his company’s latest innovation. ‘There is no question that SelectPlay gives publishers an alternative distribution channel for some of their older titles [that aren't moving at retail],’ he says. ‘However, an additional benefit lies in the opportunity to generate interest in upcoming releases, and to demo new titles in the works.’