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[03/26/08 - 12:19 PM]
Building on Early Success, USA to Expand Its Casual Gaming Site
The new features include 20+ new games, enhanced ad offerings, community features and an affinity program.

[via press release from USA]

Building on Early Success, USA to Expand its Casual Gaming Site

New Site Features to Include More Game Development, New Ad Sales Offerings and Social Networking

NEW YORK, March 26 -- On the heels of a successful foray into casual gaming this past November, USA Network's casual gaming site, CHARACTER ARCADE (formerly the Character Game Lounge), will expand its core offerings to position the site for growth and deeper ad partnerships. New features to include 20+ new games, enhanced ad offerings, community features and an affinity program. The CHARACTER ARCADE can be found at http://www.characterarcade.com and currently features over 25 character-based flash games - a combination of show-themed applications (e.g. Monk-shui and Psych In Training) and original takes on popular online games (e.g. Character Sudoku and Character Solitaire). The announcement was made today by Chris McCumber, executive vice president, marketing, digital and brand strategy.

USA has capitalized on the growing casual gaming sector with great success. The CHARACTER ARCADE has generated 30 million+ page views since its launch -- growing +304% in its first three months to 14.3 million page views in February. The CHARACTER ARCADE was ranked by comScore as one of the Top 50 Gaming sites in February and already has 165K+ registered users.

"CHARACTER ARCADE has exceeded our expectations in such a short time," said McCumber. "With this additional content and features, we expect to be a Top 25 casual gaming site by July. The site will be coveted by advertisers who want to reach a targeted and engaged demographic."

NEW GAMES

Developed and built collaboratively with design agency Glow Interactive, the CHARACTER ARCADE currently houses 25 character-themed games with plans to double the site offerings by year's end. New offerings will include new twists on classics, holiday themed games and multiplayer games. Launching this week is BLACKJACK, the classic casino game with helpful tutorials for novice players; and BLACKJACK CARD COUNTING TRAINER, for advanced players brave enough to learn the notorious art of card counting.

COMMUNITY FEATURES

Among the expanded features of the CHARACTER ARCADE will be a focus on integrating social networking applications to the site. The CHARACTER ARCADE will offer gamers a way to create personal profiles, make friends with fellow players, track the performance of elite gamers and friends, send direct challenges to rival gamers, and "talk smack" to anyone at the Arcade. By 3Q08, CHARACTER ARCADE will also gain a presence on the popular social networking site Facebook by allowing users to play embedded CHARACTER ARCADE games right on their profile page.

AFFINITY PROGRAM

To encourage repeat gameplay and increase the stakes for playing, USA will allow users to earn points for winning challenges, setting high scores or just for trying new games on the site. Initially points earned will be for vanity but by year's end, players will be able to redeem them for virtual and/or hard goods such as coupons, advertiser products and USA merchandise.

ADVERTISER OFFERINGS

In addition to customary ad banners, advertising offerings on the CHARACTER ARCADE include presenting site sponsorship, product integration, custom game development, branded rails, full-screen branded canvas before games and mid-game interstitials. All sponsorships include a companion on-air presence to create a full 360 offering.

MOBILE

The CHARACTER ARCADE will expand to the mobile space by 3Q08, as gamers will be able to play the site's most popular games right on their mobile phone.

USA NETWORK is cable television's leading provider of original series and feature movies, sports and entertainment events, off-net television shows, and blockbuster theatrical films. The #1 network in basic cable, USA Network is seen in nearly 94 million U.S. homes. The USA Network Web site is located at http://www.usanetwork.com. Characters Welcome.

USA Network is a program service of NBC Universal Cable a division of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.





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