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DirecTV Goes Gaming

DirecTV subscribers will be able to play games with SpongeBob SquarePants and Barbie without having to go to the computer.

The direct-broadcast satellite service will offer video games from Mattel, Nickelodeon, Leap Frog and PBS Kids as part of its recently launched Game Lounge interactive gaming service. For adults, the service will offer poker, UNO, Monopoly and blackjack, according to DirecTV Entertainment executive vice president Eric Shanks.

DirecTV soft-launched the gaming platform two weeks ago and has already attracted 10,000 customers. DirecTV subscribers with an interactive box can access all games for a monthly subscription price $5.95 per month, or for a play-per-day price of $1.95.

“We wanted to round out the DirecTV experience — to give people more reason to stay with DirecTV and to give people more family-friendly reasons to come to DirecTV,” Shanks said.

To make its Game Lounge appealing to kids and families, the network has entered into a long-term, exclusive partnership with toy company Mattel to develop a line of children's games using such popular brands as Hot Wheels, Barbie and UNO, said DirecTV vice president of games and strategic initiatives Steven Roberts.

In addition, the company will offer other educational and arcade-style games based on Nickelodeon properties like SpongeBob SquarePants, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and its soon-to-be-launched animated series, Tak and the Power of Juju.

Overall, about 15 games will be offered at any given time, according to Roberts. DirecTV will refresh Game Lounge's lineup every two weeks.

Neither Roberts nor Shanks would provide subscriber projections for Game Lounge, but they noted that 10,000 people already on board signed up sans a major marketing push. Eventually, DirecTV will run cross-channel spots promoting the service, Roberts said.

“Everybody, from kids with the Mattel games to the [baby] boomer generation with the various brainteasers, will have something for them,” he said.

Game Lounge also features community elements, leaderboards, and tournaments for several games, elements that are keeping users within the system, according to Roberts.

Later this year, DirecTV plans to allow subscribers to watch a TV channel while playing a game within a picture-in-picture frame, he said.