Lycos plays games with Gamesville.com buy

Hoping to get a boost from the popularity of game-playing on the Net, Web portal Lycos buys the interactive entertainment company and direct marketer for $207 million in stock.

Hoping to get a boost from the popularity of game-playing on the Internet, Web portal Lycos today said it has agreed to acquire Gamesville.com, an interactive entertainment company and direct marketer, for $207 million in stock.

Gamesville, based outside Boston, allows registered players to simultaneously compete for prizes in live games such as poker and other card games, sports, trivia and bingo. Lycos said the games have driven traffic to Gamesville, increasing audience reach by more than 300 percent at the site last year.

Another strong incentive for the acquisition is that Gamesville is also a direct marketer with a base of technology, products and expertise, Lycos said.

"We were particularly attracted to Gamesville because of the exceptional quality of registration information, which considerably expands our direct marketing infrastructure," Bob Davis, chief executive of Lycos, said in a statement.

Gamesville collects detailed profiles on each registered user, giving advertisers the opportunity to deliver targeted multimedia commercials between games.

According to Media Metrix, Gamesville is second only to eBay in stickiness, with average usage at nearly 17.9 minutes per day.

The interactive entertainment site will become part of the Lycos Network, joining Tripod, HotBot, Angelfire and MailCity.

Waltham, Mass.-based Lycos hopes the acquisition will increase traffic to its network. The portal expects Gamesville to bring an additional 2.2 million registered users and add more than 10,000 new members each day.

With the purchase, Lycos will employ more than 900 people across the country and will assume Gamesville's stock option plan. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the year and is subject to Gamesville.com shareholder approval.

Steve Kane, Gamesville's CEO, will serve as Lycos' general manger of gaming.

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