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RealNetworks plays up gaming service

The streaming-media company touts RealArcade, a new service that it says gives consumers everything they need to find, play and manage PC games.

Eager to tap consumer interest in computer games, streaming-media giant RealNetworks on Monday launched its new gaming play with the official debut of RealArcade.

RealNetworks, which unveiled the service two months ago, is touting the free offering as a new service that gives consumers everything they need to find, play and manage PC games. A beta release of RealArcade, available now at no cost, comes with some 120 games, the Seattle-based company said.

The new gaming release comes as RealNetworks aims to expand beyond providing streaming media software, at a time when many Web streaming companies have retrenched or folded.

On top of offering downloadable computer games, RealNetworks has recently made a bet on live sports events, partly emerging out of its content pacts with the NBA and Major League Baseball. Just last month, the company also said it was creating an online music venture, dubbed MusicNet, with three of the major record labels, aiming to give itself a wide array of Web programming.

RealNetworks has said that RealArcade represents a new vehicle for getting PC games to consumers, providing developers with tools for creating compact, download-friendly titles and giving people an online network where they can try a variety of games and buy titles for download. The company began experimenting with downloadable games last year by offering a games section on the Real.com site.

RealArcade also enables consumers to share ideas and reviews via message boards, find games to download, access an open publishing area where they can test-drive games developed by independent publishers, and set up and play peer-to-peer and server-based multiplayer games.

The RealArcade games available now include a number of titles from a wide range of game developers including Tex Atomic Big Bot Battles and Kayak Extreme. RealArcade also provides other titles that are designed only for the RealNetworks games service.