MSN Games - Wikipedia. MSN Games (also known as Zone. The Village, Internet Gaming Zone, MSN Gaming Zone, and MSN Games by Zone. PC download games. Games are available in free on- line versions, trial versions, and full feature pay- to- play versions. MSN Games is a part of Microsoft Studios, a sister of the MSN portal, and is owned by Microsoft, headquartered in Redmond, Washington. History. In 1. 99.
Steve Murch, a then- employee of Microsoft, convinced Bill Gates to acquire the small online game site, then owned by Electric Gravity. The site was rebranded to .
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Formerly, the site competed with other similar free- game sites, such as Yahoo! Games and msngames. Volunteers. The idea was to have volunteers moderating chat lobbies, hosting tourneys, offering tech support, and interacting with the gamers to collect general feedback. Volunteer Moderators for the Zone were initially designated as members of the .
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In 2. 00. 1, Participate Systems won the contract and would continue to lead the program until its official disbanding. During the volunteer program's conversion to its new management, all previous token designations were replaced with a single . Participate Systems was acquired by Outstart. November 2. 00. 4. The Zone sanctioned a number of independent groups to operate tournaments on the Zone, subject to the groups retaining a tokened tournament director and obeying the Zone Code of Conduct.
Groups operatedgames in a number of games, including backgammon, cribbage, chess, hearts, and others. Some of these groups (for example RTW Online's Thunder and Mr.
Fixit. Online's Smackdown series of tournaments in the Age of Empires series of games) created an intense following, and the associated intercine rivalries. A few, such as Gammon. Zone and Warpgammon (backgammon) and Pegging Pals (cribbage) even survived the demise of the Zone and migrated to other servers. Citing MSN's statement regarding the closure of CD- ROM games on the Zone on June 1. Member Plus program was also disbanded at that time, due to the removal of chat capabilities from game lobbies and the end of support for the Zone. Friends client. Setbacks. Crackers, script kiddies for the most part, targeted the Zone software.
In 2. 00. 4, the worst crack attack occurred through the use of social engineering, giving the intruders access to the administrator tools. The intruders used their new- found tools to ban players and other site volunteers.
After the dot- com boom, web sites claimed difficulties managing their finances. MSN Games changed its market strategy and left the retail market to focus solely on free and premium games, a decision that finally culminated in their decision to retire support for CD- ROM games and lobbies on June 1. As a free site, the Zone was the subject of extensive benign neglect by Microsoft. Users identified a myriad of serious problems with the site (for example, one player demonstrated an ability to actually manipulate the dice in backgammon), but MSN would wait years or never address these vulnerabilities. Garry Kasparov, chess champion, played in a chess game organized by Microsoft. World champion Alex Moiseyev and grandmaster Tim Laverty also played checkers on Zone. The Sheik of The United Arab Emirates invited a few backgammonplayers from the Zone to play in his .
Many of the . This was later replaced by Zone. Orchestrator, a program written by two Members Plus which improved upon Zone. Commander by adding chat monitoring facilities and an enhanced user interface. Some years later, Zone.
Commander was retired in favor of Zone. Orchestrator, which became the official tool of choice and remained so until the lobbies closed on June 1.
Controversy. We’ll be sad to see them go! These games are like old friends: they gave us our start, and helped us grow from an innovative little entertainment site to a truly stellar online gaming experience. But over the years, it’s become more and more difficult to maintain the aging hardware and software that supports them.
We held out absolutely as long as we could, but it was finally time to make that decision. However, due primarily to MSN's inability to provide a timeframe for the expected replacement of chat lobbies, tournaments, and its Member Plus volunteer moderator program, thousands of players appeared at each session to express their discontent, and began an online petition in an attempt to stop MSN's scheduled changes. As with previous changes, however, MSN has continued to stand firm in its commitment to the retirement of its services, citing outdated hardware and lack of economic viability for the old products. Although alternatives exist to the Zone for CD- ROM gameplay, many Microsoft game studios embedded Zone links and functionality into their games, including Angel Studios' Midtown Madness and Ensemble Studios' Age of Empires game series.
Ensemble only began their switch to an in- game matchmaking system with the release of Age of Mythology. Games as recent as Flight Simulator 9. Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds utilized the Zone's lobby system for matchmaking.
For many such games, no replacement service has been announced. The first game in the Flight Simulator series to use in- game matchmaking is Flight Simulator X, released early 2. MSN supported matchmaking services.