Microsoft Infuses Social Experiences Into Casual Games New MSN Games, updated games experience on Windows Live Messenger, international expansion of Bing Games and alliance with CrowdStar make the best casual games more social.

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Blurring the traditional line between "casual" and "social" gameplay, today Microsoft Corp. is introducing new ways — and places — to play online. The preview of an all-new MSN Games site, along with Windows Live Messenger and Bing Games, delivers a socially infused casual games experience that links to a player's Facebook and Windows Live networks and integrates across platforms, offering truly connected gameplay with status updates, game challenges, leaderboards and more. Also today, Microsoft is announcing an alliance with leading social games publisher, CrowdStar, which brings some of the company's most popular social titles to Microsoft's casual games properties.

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"We've made it easier to find and play the games you love while connecting to the people who matter most," said Kevin Unangst, senior global director of PC and mobile gaming at Microsoft. "MSN Games, Windows Live Messenger and Bing reach millions of consumers every month, and we're connecting all those players — and their social circles — for the first time with a great games experience at the center."

Launching this afternoon, the latest addition to the Microsoft casual games portfolio is a preview of the new MSN Games (http://games.msn.com), which brings a fresh approach to the highly popular casual games destination. The new MSN Games lets players enjoy the best online games, challenge Facebook and Windows Live friends to beat their high scores, and keep track of their favorite celebrities— all in one place. Featuring a carefully curated selection of the best online games, real-time entertainment news from MSN Entertainment and an innovative design that even changes throughout the day, the new MSN Games joins a revitalized Windows Live Messenger and Bing Games to make the best casual games more social, more personal and more fun.

A New Hub of Entertainment

With this week's releases, Microsoft connected its casual games properties, creating a unified games experience across the new MSN Games, Windows Live Messenger and Bing. Sign in to your Facebook or Windows Live account or both, scroll through your friends' status updates, send challenge requests, view game leaderboards, or save a game as a favorite to make it even easier to find.

All three games properties are connected by a new social feature called Microsoft Game Hub, which adds more of your personality and friends to your favorite casual games. Whether played solo or sent as a high-score challenge to a friend in another country, games on the new MSN Games, Windows Live Messenger and Bing reach players from Louisville to London and encompass more of everything that's important to you and your world:

More Social

  • Easily connect with friends when you log in with your Facebook and/or Windows Live ID.
  • Stay connected with instant updates on your friends' statuses, games feeds and leaderboards.
  • Stay competitive and challenge your friends to beat your highscore, whether you play a game on the MSN Games preview, Windows Live Messenger or Bing.
  • Share the fun quickly and easily with wall posts and status updates.

More Personal

  • Watch the new MSN Games preview homepage change depending on what time of day it is at your location.
  • Track all your favorite games, game history and scores.
  • Make a game on Bing a Favorite, and play it on the new MSN Games, Windows Live Messenger or vice versa.

More Fun

  • From the latest indie titles to some of the biggest names in casual games, exclusive content and new releases regularly, play the latest and greatest games from wherever you are online.
  • Stay informed by scrolling through entertainment and celebrity news from MSN Entertainment on the MSN Games preview homepage.
  • Compete for cash prizes in weekly giveaways at the Prize Corner on the new MSN Games preview.

Play While You Chat With Windows Live Messenger

Windows Live Messenger is one of the world's most popular IM networks, with more than 9 billion messages sent every day. Today, Microsoft is infusing those chats with the social features of Microsoft Game Hub and a portfolio of new titles from leading publishers, including iWin, PopCap, Arkadium, GameHouse and more.

Simply log in to Windows Live Messenger, click on the Games tab, and choose from a wide selection of popular and independent casual games available to play directly in the chat window either solo or against a friend in 11 countries around the world. With the addition of Microsoft Game Hub, players can connect with and challenge their Facebook or Windows Live friends and the people they care about most on the new MSN Games preview and Bing Games.

Game While You Search With Bing

In June, Bing Games made finding and playing your favorite casual titles online easier. Just type a query into the search window to find and play games directly in the Web browser. With a deep and diverse portfolio and regular new releases, Bing Games has already seen more than 55 million game sessions played to date directly in the browser.

Starting today, Bing Games will expand to English-speaking international markets including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand —inviting millions more to experience the ease of searching, clicking and playing.

Bing will also be the first of Microsoft's casual games platforms to feature CrowdStar titles, which will join the Bing portfolio in mid-December.

"The tremendous reach of Microsoft's casual games properties allows us to bring our games to brand new audiences and gives our current users all new ways to play their favorite games," said Niren Hiro, CEO of CrowdStar. "We're thrilled to team up with Microsoft and are looking forward to releasing more games across its online platforms."

The Starting Lineup

A portfolio of great launch titles, exclusive games and frequent new releases unites the new MSN Games, Windows Live Messenger and Bing. At launch, more than 35 titles — including hits such as "Cubis 2" (Fresh Games LLC), "Super Stacker 2" (inXile Entertainment), and "Plants vs. Zombies" (PopCap) — will be connected and playable across MSN Games, Windows Live Messenger and Bing. Strong content collaborations with leading companies like CrowdStar, as well as a carefully-chosen selection of popular and critically acclaimed games from console, handheld, mobile and online platforms, will round out the portfolio, with great new games launching regularly.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.



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