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LIVE OR UNPLUGGED: 2008 Golden Tee Versions Target Larger Player Base

Posted On: 11/24/2007

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL -- Incredible Technologies has introduced its highly anticipated 2008 Golden Tee versions, which the company considers to be the most ambitious enhancement to its 19-year-old golf videogame series. The lineup consists of two distinct products: the all-new Unplugged version and a reinvented LIVE, IT's flagship online game. Both lines include Golden Tee's newest golf courses, part of IT's annual fall update.

A stand-alone offline game, Golden Tee Unplugged 2008 is offered as an upgrade kit or dedicated unit. Just like LIVE, it features 15 courses. However, Unplugged requires no ITNet fees, cellular connection or card reader, and payments can only be made with cash. Factory-default pricing for 18 holes is $3, compared with $4 for 18 on LIVE.

And since there are no online contests, the dedicated unit's upper monitor, which displays contest results, has been eliminated. The Unplugged cabinet styling is similar to that of IT's Silver Strike Bowling and Target Toss Pro: Bags, and distinguishes itself from Golden Tee LIVE with a unique color scheme and marquee. The dedicated unit also is equipped with a high-resolution flat-panel monitor that renders a crystal-clear image.

IT describes the  game's level of difficulty as "casual," meaning that gameplay is to some extent easier than LIVE's, yet challenging enough for all player levels. "It is similar to the old 'stroke play' level on Golden Tee Fore!," said IT's marketing director Gary Colabuono.

Unplugged's menu screens are shorter and simpler than LIVE, allowing for quicker entry, and new local leaderboards give all players the chance to see their names in lights. Additionally, players have the option to customize their onscreen golfer, although not to the same extent with LIVE. They also can select Top Flite balls and clubs.

"A complete overhaul from top to bottom" is how IT describes Golden Tee LIVE 2008, the latest version of the online golf game introduced in 2005, which is designed to appeal to both advanced and casual players.

LIVE 2008 was developed with a number of new features, beginning with an edgier logo and marquee with just a wisp of golf ball. This new look expresses movement and vitality. And with more clothing options, players can give themselves different looks. LIVE always enabled users to dress up their onscreen characters in different attire, and this interactive feature has proven to be very popular.

The new bracketed prize play feature structures online contests for players of similar skill, allowing more entries to win prizes. Pros will be matched with pros and amateurs with the like, for instance.

Golden Tee patrons can now choose between advanced or casual play modes. Advanced mode allows players to track stats and averages, play for prizes, and compete in tournaments and contests. Or if a player just wants to golf, he or she selects casual mode and begins on the first tee.

Rounding out the new player features on LIVE, IT borrowed some ideas for the Unplugged: easier game entry and local leaderboards.

Golden Tee LIVE, equipped with a wireless modem, is always connected to IT's network so that contests, tournaments and player accounts can be administered remotely, and to enable cashless payment options in the form of credit and gift cards. When introduced two years ago, it was regarded as one of the most sophisticated coin-operated games.

But that sophistication came at a price, IT acknowledged, noting that the game narrowed the audience to mid- and high-traffic locations. Originally, the videogame maker planned to introduce its offline version earlier, but scaled back plans because LIVE was months behind schedule before its 2005 launch. With two Golden Tee versions now available, IT says it has provided operators with practical solutions to penetrate all location types and audiences.

Every fall, IT offers an update with new courses for current Golden Tee models, and both 2008 versions include these imaginative golfing spots. Jim Zielinski, IT's senior game designer, and award-winning digital golf course architect, created five new courses and thousands of new tee and pin positions to keep them fresh.

New courses include Eagle Crest Golf Resort, giving players the opportunity to golf among America's most famous monuments in the District of Columbia; Bayou Bay Country Club, a hazard-filled venue in the black water swamps of Louisiana; Misty Springs Country Club, which winds through Yellowstone National Park and its geyser-filled creation tagged Misty Springs; Cypress Cove Country Club, set alongside the Pacific Ocean in California's Monterey Peninsula; and Summit Lakes Country Club, buried deep within the frozen tundra of the barren Yukon Territory.