* German media giant Bertelsmann AG has hooked up with Munich-based Viag Interkom GmbH to launch an on-line mecca for interactive gamers in Europe this month. Featuring five multiplayer games to start (including GT Interactive’s action-adventure PC title Unreal and a made-for-the-Web offering called Air Attack), the premium service will be housed on Bertelsmann’s existing Game Channel site (www.gamechannel.de). For a per-call charge of US$0.03, users can access games, as well as editorial features like news, previews and reviews. The Web venture’s home page will also carry game-related advertising to bolster revenues.
* In a bid to become Europe’s most powerful software publisher, France’s Infogrames Entertainment has inked a US$40-million acquisition deal with the U.K.’s Gremlin Interactive. Having previously purchased 56% of Gremlin’s shares, Infogrames has agreed to buy out the remaining 19 million shares by the end of June. With its Actua Sports series and an action game slate that includes hot sellers like Men in Black and Body Harvest, Gremlin will fill two key holes in Infogrames’s growing multigenre portfolio.
* Sony Signatures and Calabasas, California-based Sound Source Inter-active are working on a new line of software for preschoolers based on the Berenstain Bears book property. The first two CD-ROM titles to result from the four-year production deal will hit retail in August, with an estimated price tag of US$19.95. Sound Source has also unveiled plans to morph many of its kids software titles (including the Berenstain Bears and The Land Before Time series) into versions for Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Game Boy consoles.
* Firmly ensconced as North America’s leading provider of family-targeted Internet content, e-entrepreneur Disney is now gearing up to take the European Web world by storm. Following the launch of www.disney.co.uk, a U.K. family site offering a mélange of games, interactive stories and educational activities, the Mouse House has announced plans to establish similar on-line ventures in France, Germany, Italy and Scandinavia over the next two years. Eventually, the network of Web sites will sport healthy e-commerce areas featuring Disney videos, books and other merchandise.
* Yabba-dabba-digital? SouthPeak Interactive, based in Cary, North Carolina, is gearing up to publish a 3-D bowling CD-ROM game based on Hanna- Barbera’s prehistoric w-ndertoon The Flintstones. Replete with primeval features like granite bowling balls and hand-chiseled pins, the game (developed by L.A.-based Adrenalin Interactive) targets ages seven and up, and is slated for a North American debut in the fourth quarter.