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Orbitz launches games portal

What's the first thing you think about when you think of travel Web sites? Games, right? Well, maybe not, but if the folks at Orbitz have anything to say about it, you'll soon be ditching your Xbox, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Commodore 64 and other game system and clicking on over to the site's new portal, Orbitz Games.

The idea seems to be that by linking casual games with a travel site, Orbitz will generate an organic community of "Orbitz enthusiasts who will connect with the brand when they are thinking about travel," the company said in a release.

The notion may not be intuitive, since it seems most people who go traipsing around sites like Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity and others want to buy their tickets or book their hotel rooms and then move on.

But Orbitz is laying claim to visitors playing an "astounding" 3.5 minutes of its games since it unveiled "pop-under" games several years ago, as well as 1.8 million "tell-a-friend" referrals in the same time frame.

Perhaps. But the games on the site--which include "Island Hop," "8Ball," "Beach Valley Pong," "Swing for the Fences" and others--are not as sophisticated as those on sites like And though the Orbitz games are free, it's not clear why users would want to go to the site to play games.

In any case, Orbitz seems intent on making a go of its portal, and that's fine. But don't expect general productivity to suffer the way games like "Tetris" once did. Still, you might find a good deal on a plane ticket--if you click off the games portal and over to the actual travel site.