Digital news bytes
In the middle of a deserted superhighway, a box labelled ‘ACME community Web site’ lies at the feet of Wile E. Coyote as he plots to outrun a speedy Roadrunner. Some things never change. To detour traffic on the modern-day
infobahn, Warner Bros. Online has partnered with New York’s Fortunecity.com Internet company to launch a cyberhub called ACMEcity.com in late January. Hoping to compete with on-line community giants like GeoCities and theglobe.com, ACMEcity offers users free homepages (for which they can get official photos and music clips), as well as chatrooms, message boards and links to WB fan sites for shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson’s Creek.
In a bid to take over the world. . .and add to its stable of affiliated software studios, New York’s GT Interactive has acquired U.K. developer Reflections Interactive (the 15-year-old company that launched the million-unit-selling Destruction Derby series for Sony’s PlayStation in 1996) and Chantilly, Virginia-based Legend Entertainment. These two pick-ups join Humongous Entertainment, Cavedog Entertainment, SingleTrac, Oddworld Inhabitants and Bootprint Entertainment on GT’s studio palette. In July, GT will release Driver, Reflections’ latest dual platform game for PlayStation and PC, as well as exclusively publishing Unreal II, a PC game that Legend is debuting on behalf of Epic Megagames later this year.
Internet monolith America Online is hoping to plug into the next generation of surfers by picking up on-line preschool content from CTW. As part of a one-year deal signed in January, AOL now features a co-branded area leading directly to CTW’s site (www.ctw.org) on its Families Channel. The area hosts a choose-your-own-ending reading center called Sesame Street Storybook Corner, and kids can build and decorate their own home pages in Sticker World. AOL calls the CTW content ‘lapware’ because it’s designed for kids still young enough to perch on a parent’s knee, a demo that was virually ignored on AOL’s Net service prior to the deal with CTW.
Montreal’s Cinar and Toronto-based cyberco H+a have teamed up to co-develop an animated TV series based on H+a’s Web characters, Nikolai and Neow-Neow. Featured on the award-winning kids site nikolai.com, as well as in eight best-selling CD-ROM titles, Nikolai and Neow-Neow are Canada’s first digital characters to get TV crossover treatment.
California’s ASCII Entertainment Software has just launched a vidgame publishing arm to handle a seven-title 1999 slate. AGETEC (ASCII Game Entertainment Technology) will ship R-Types for Sony’s PlayStation this month, followed by fellow PlayStation titles Echo Night, Shadow Tower, Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within, Fighter Maker and Rising Zan, as well as an extreme sports game for the Nintendo 64 console called AirBoardin’ USA .