Paris firm buys into GameTap

Partnering for global online gaming network

SAN DIEGO -- Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting has found a partner for its money-losing GameTap service, announcing a deal with Paris-based Metaboli to create a global online gaming network.

Under the deal, Atlanta-based GameTap initially will continue to provide arcade, console and PC games to U.S. broadband users under its own brand, while Metaboli -- whose on-demand games service is offered by more than 50 partners, including MSN and Virgin -- will operate under its own brand in Europe.

Metaboli will assume direct management in early 2009 of the GameTap business and brand, with Turner becoming an equity investor in the combined entity going forward.

"The addition of GameTap provides us a foothold in the U.S. market, valuable content and an established brand that integrate well with our existing operations and a partner with whom we are honored to be in business," Metaboli CEO Pierre Gaudet said.

Launched as a subscription-based service in 2005, GameTap struggled to find an audience and profitability amid the sheer number of online sites offering free game-related news and game play. Eventually GameTap shifted to a hybrid revenue model with some ad-supported free games, titles available for purchase and download and a premium subscription service offering unlimited access to more than 130 games.

Last month, Turner said it would take an $18 million charge on GameTap as it looked to sell the service.