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Yahoo gets into the game

The Net giant adds free multiplayer gaming and game content to its ever-growing lineup of features, aiming to one-up its portal competitors.

    Net giant Yahoo (YHOO) today added multiplayer gaming to its roster of features.

    With its new Yahoo Games section, the company that started as a simple Net search directory jumps another step in its fight to become the home site for as many Netizens as possible. It faces stiff competition from rivals such as Excite and America Online, which also offer add-ons to keep users coming and staying as long as possible. All these "portal" sites are after the Net's Holy Grail: advertising dollars, which come with high traffic numbers.

    These portals have attempted to lure Netizens with everything from free email to paging, e-commerce, and children's services. Most recently, Yahoo added a Net telephony feature to its lineup.

    Yahoo, which has consistently been on top of the race to add new features, has enjoyed tremendous traffic as well as the support of Wall Street. Its stock reached another 52-week high yesterday, closing at 93-1/16, up 2-7/16 from Friday's close of 90-5/8.

    Yahoo Games do not require plug-ins, according to the company, though they are Java-based. The games are free, and users can play with other Netizens or read game-related news and information from Game Spot.

    Yahoo is offering classic board games such as backgammon, checkers, and chess as well as card games including bridge, gin, and poker. Users choose a game, select a "room" based on their level--social, intermediate, or advanced--get the rules of the game, create an identity, and select the screen size. Users also have the option of just watching games in progress or creating their own rooms.

    Last month, the New York Times also announced a foray into online gaming, though it is charging users a fee. The Gray Lady offers interactive bridge, chess, and backgammon, along with fantasy football, free trivia, and an additional subscription-based service with crossword puzzles as well as crossword and bridge columns.