GameTap is an American online video game service by Turner Broadcasting System (TBS). Dubbed by TBS as a "broadband gaming network", the service provides users with classic arcade, computer and video games and game related video content. Users can play 142 free games. Subscribers are provided access to hundreds of games for either 99 cents for the 1st month and $10 a month afterward, or $60 a year.

Service details

GameTap launched on October 3rd, 2005 with over 300 games and has now grown to over 1,000. The service was the idea of Turner employee, Blake Lewin. New games are added every Thursday.

GameTap also features video programming related to video games, music, technology, and other animated shorts. A lite player is gone because it was merged with the deluxe player. As of version 3.5, the video inside the Gametap Player has been phased out and moved completely to the web.

Like many subscription music services, subscribers have access to the entire library; there is no per-game fee. Games cannot be purchased, and are automatically deactivated when the user unsubscribes from the service. A single registered account provides the option for up to eight screen names, and access to games based on ESRB ratings can be limited on a per-screen name basis. However, although the GameTap software and games can be installed on any number of computers, only two screen names under a single registration can be logged in at a time. Therefore, a subscriber can make up to seven extra "sub-accounts" that friends or family can use on any computer with Gametap installed. Users must have a broadband connection, and cannot play GameTap games while disconnected from the Internet.

Most multiplayer games can be played by two users on the same computer. A limited number of games have been enhanced with an online leaderboard and challenge lobby, adding internet multiplayer to games that previously could only be played face to face. Every Monday Gametap holds a leaderboard tournament with a different game each week.

In the past, to cancel one's account, a customer had to call a GameTap representative or request cancellation through their live chat support service. Some customers (as of April 2006) had reported being pressured to stay subscribed. The ability to cancel one's account online was added to the service in October 2007, although customers are still able to call customer service or use the online chat if they choose.

On May 1, 2007, GameTap announced that the service would change its business model somewhat. There will now be 3 different service levels: Visitor, Green, and Gold. The Visitor and Green levels will be free while the Gold level will require a subscription fee (pricing is the same as before). A Visitor is a non-registered member of GameTap, and has access to 30 to 40 select games through the GameTap website These games will have banner ads when played. A Green-level member must register with GameTap (though no credit card information is required) and is given access to a few more games, and also has the option of playing them through the "Lite" GameTap player, a simplified "Deluxe" player (the old GameTap player). There will be a short ad video streamed before each game is played with a Green account. The highest tier (gold level) requires a monthly subscription($9.95) or an annual subscription ($59.95). Gold level members will still have ad-free access to all GameTap content in more or less the same way they did before the announcement.

On June 19, 2007, GameTap announced a new partnership with Macrovision to make games for purchase and download through GameTap's new digital storefront where some games can be bought and played offline. Tomb Raider: Anniversary (published by Eidos) was made available on GameTap June 5 — the same day it hit retail shelves.

Corporate support

The initial list of game licensees included Activision, Atari, Intellivision Lives!, Midway, Namco, Sega, and Taito. Since its inception, more companies have licensed their software, including: Eidos Interactive, G-Mode, Ubisoft, Codemasters, Vivendi Games, Konami, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Take-Two Interactive, Interplay and SNK Playmore.

On November 29, 2007, GameTap announced that on December 11 of the same year, over 70 games would be removed from their catalog, many of them Electronic Arts or Interplay titles. If the Infocard of the game in question was pulled up, it offered this reason:

"Occasionally, GameTap will rotate titles out of our catalog based on the status of publisher agreements and feedback from our members."

One prevalent theory posted on the GameTap message boards is that the two-year agreement with these companies has expired, and Turner Broadcasting System is currently re-negotiating with them.

However, on January 10th 2008 a Gametap staff member announced the return of the Humongus Games license which restored popular games such as the likes of Putt Putt and Pajama Sam back to the library.

Transfer of ownership

On August 6, 2008, Turner Broadcasting announced that they were looking to sell GameTap. On September 24, 2008, Time Warner has sold the service to Paris-based Metaboli. Turner will continue to handle GameTap's operations during the transition period, which will last until 2009. After the transition the service will be available to non US/Canadian residents.

Supported systems

Titles provided by the service are either specially wrapped executables that are unpackaged when a game is run, or run under an emulator software included with the GameTap software. These systems include:

Original games

While GameTap launched with older titles, the success of the service allowed for first-run titles to launch at GameTap. GameTap Originals sets out to "identify talented creators and enable them to take a new approach to games by providing a publishing infrastructure where sell-through isn't the sole metric for success."

On May 9, 2006, a deal was announced to release Sam & Max Season One and Myst Online: Uru Live. Sam & Max: Culture Shock was released in October 2006 and Uru Live was officially released February 2007. GameTap announced in May 2007 that Uru Live would evolve into an episodic game, featuring monthly content releases. On 4 February 2008, it was announced that Uru Live would be discontinued due to business reasons. However, Uru Live is re-launching outside of Gametap (Due to gametap returning the rights to it to the creators of the game) as Myst Online: Restoration Experiment (MORE), run by it's creators, Cyan Worlds Inc.

On February 7, 2007, GameTap announced their third original game, Galactic Command: Echo Squad, from independent developer 3000AD. The four part episodic game is a space combat title formerly planned for launch in Summer of 2007; however, it suffered from constant delays. In early 2008, Gametap announced that it cancelled it's deal with 3000AD. "It was a good game, it was very solid, but as we were going through, it ended up not being the right title for our audience," says Ricardo Sanchez. "It was a tough call. I think it’s one of the strongest games [Derek] ever made. We put a lot of effort into it... I honestly think it's one of Derek’s strongest games.

On May 15, 2007, PC Gamer magazine premiered the first look at GameTap's newest original game, American McGee's Grimm Tales, a 24 part episodic series by game designer American McGee. The first episode's been released on July 31st, 2008. American McGee's Grimm Tales is the fourth episodic game from GameTap, making the online service the largest publisher of episodic games. GameTap vice president of content Ricardo Sanchez has written and presented on the development of episodic games and been featured in articles by the Hollywood Reporter and Gamasutra on the subject.

In addition, GameTap Indies is a program where independent game developers can distribute content though the GameTap service.

GameTap TV

As part of its service, GameTap previously featured TV shows, game trailers, interviews with bands and game designers, and more. As part of a redesign in mid-July 2008, the GameTap TV section of the site was removed, and the company have not said if the content will be made available.

Previous content on the service included:

  • ReVisioned: Tomb Raider, an animated Tomb Raider series.
  • Ten Years of Tomb Raider: A GameTap Retrospective, a comprehensive look at the franchise.
  • GameTap News, Emmy-winning sneak peeks at upcoming games and highlights from gaming conferences.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast, new episodes exclusive to GameTap.
  • Computer Lab, a GameTap exclusive animated TV show.
  • Tapped In, GameTap TV's Emmy-nominated documentary series, exploring landmark games and their creators.
  • Survival Guide, tips and tricks on how to excel in particular games.
  • GameTap Tracks, exclusive performances by various musical artists.
  • Music videos
  • The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the original animated series of Sam and Max.
  • A Day in the Extra Life, what would Pac-Man or Dig Dug say if they could talk?
  • E3 2006 Footage
  • Hyper Five, a top 5 count down show
  • GameTap 10, musicians count down their favorite 10 games, hosted by Dee Snider of Twisted Sister
  • Class of...?, a montage and description of what made the year in question special, including games, with the year being revealed at the end.
  • Challenged, a game show where contestants challenge each other to a GameTap game.
  • Mega Man (the Japanese version, dubbed in English)
  • GameTap Presents, part of the Artist of the Month
  • Play This Game, people who know games suggest hidden gems you may not have played
  • Confessions, short animated series of sub-fictional events related to games usually in a comical matter.
  • GameTap News Daily, the latest video game news
  • Plug and Play, a daily show that features the coolest and latest games, movies, and music
  • Events channel coverage of E3, Tokyo Game Show, Comicon, Lollapalooza, etc


The following requirements are suggested for basic use of the GameTap client software. Individual games, Windows games released within the past few years in particular, may have higher requirements. These requirements are listed within the game client. In addition, the hard drive space requirement is a recommended minimum. Each game that the user wishes to play must be downloaded to the user's hard drive, and the space requirement grows with the number of games stored locally.

  • A broadband Internet connection (slower connections may degrade performance of some games, such as Beyond Good & Evil and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time)
  • Windows 2000, XP 32-bit (Windows XP 64-bit supports only a small percentage of the games), or Windows Vista 32-bit (crackly sound bug in Vista , and 64-bit versions of Vista support only a very small portion of the games ) (Macintosh version requires an Intel processor)
  • Pentium 4 or Athlon 800MHz or better processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 3D video card with 32MB VRAM and DirectX 8.x or OpenGL 1.1
  • 5 GB Hard drive space
  • Some more advanced games have other system requirements
  • You must be in the USA or Canada

See also


External links

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