Disney broadens horizons

Into has an online service called PlayNow that allows parents to rent software. And this week the selection of available titles got even better.

Into Networks announced that it will expand PlayNow, which currently offers about 100 games, with Disney games. The agreement with Disney Interactive will bring titles such as "A Bug's Life Action Game" and "Winnie-the-Pooh Kindergarten" to broadband this fall.

Into hasn't announced pricing for the Disney entries yet, but a company spokesperson expects it to be similar to the three-tiered pricing of the current PlayNow selections. You can rent individual titles for 48 hours for $US2.99, subscribe to different "channels" (Kids, Lifestyles, or Games) for $US5.99 monthly, or pay $US9.95 monthly for unlimited use of all games.

For protection against software piracy, PlayNow uses a small player utility on a local PC and proprietary streaming technology that only downloads parts of the games as they're needed.

The PlayNow service isn't available on all broadband internet services yet, but it is currently accessible to about 500,000 broadband users in 45 markets, according to Into. The company hopes to offer PlayNow to most broadband users by the end of the year. By then, analysts estimate more than 3 million homes will have high-speed connections.

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Stan Miastkowski

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