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RealNetworks plays with games downloads

Grappling with broadband and the popularity of downloading, the streaming media company unveils deals with 10 developers to offer new games for download on the Real.com site.

    Grappling with broadband and the popularity of downloading, streaming media company RealNetworks on Tuesday unveiled distribution deals with 10 games developers and publishers to offer new games for download on its Real.com site.

    The host of developers and publishers that signed deals with Seattle-based RealNetworks includes And Now, Church of Electronic Entertainment, Daydream Software and Zombie. RealNetworks also said that Intel will sponsor several new games for Real.com's Games section, which features downloadable and Web-based games.

    Facing a challenge in the streaming media industry as broadband becomes more available, the games pacts represent RealNetworks' efforts to expand its line of downloadable products. The company has been known for its streaming products, such as RealPlayer. But with high-speed services making it easier and faster to download products, streaming services may find themselves losing the popularity contest.

    Downloads are an area RealNetworks "has been moving toward," said Phil Benyola, a research associate for investment firm Raymond James & Associates. "They want to be not in just streaming but also in downloading."

    The Games section of the site went live in March and has more than 45 downloadable games, 45 Web games, user reviews, ratings, streaming previews and free demos, according to RealNetworks.

    All the games have a free version, but they also have a priced version. Paul Thelen, group product manager for RealNetworks' Games unit, said a decent version of each game is free, but more detailed versions usually range from $15 to $20.

    Thelen added that the Real.com Games section grew out of its guides group, an entertainment destination for streaming media on the Web. He said RealNetworks is trying the same business model that it's currently looking at with music and applying it to games.

    "We are focused on being the No. 1 channel for digital distribution of games," Thelen said.

    The company has been working to supplement its core technology offerings with media listings and promotions to guide consumers to digital entertainment online. In May, the company launched a service promoting content on its RealPlayer media player. In June, RealNetworks partnered with Alliance Entertainment to provide a music library in the latest version of its digital jukebox, RealJukebox 2.