AOL Price Fix

The mother of all commercial online services is said to be on the cusp of charging a fee for online gaming.

America Online is expected to shake up its flat-rate pricing of US$19.95 a month with an announcement tomorrow that will see the imposition of an additional $2 hourly fee for a new gaming area called WorldPlay.

WorldPlay is the recently launched gaming area that offers AOL subscribers the opportunity to play games such as backgammon, bridge, cribbage, gin, hearts, and spades.

While industry insiders have been expecting a move in this direction for months, AOL has repeatedly denied it would impose any additional fees on subscribers.

Opinions solicited from WorldPlay beta testers today indicated any move to increase fees would be met with resistance, including the likely defection of current subscribers. "Let's just say there is NO way we are going to pay extra. Unlimited is supposed to mean unlimited," one gamer said.

"I have the Internet. I'll just search for something else to play," said another.

This would be the first major pricing change to AOL's services since it implemented flat-rate pricing last year.

The company did not return calls at press time.

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