DURHAM, NC – MARCH 11, 2009 The Escapist, the leading video gaming destination offering video game enthusiasts high-quality, innovative and exclusive content, today announced the start of its second annual March Mayhem: Developer’s Showdown to determine the best video game developer of 2009. The multi-day tournament will engage not only The Escapist’s own online community of more than three million video game enthusiasts, but also the loyal followers of all 64 game developers matched up head-to-head in the competition, creating an ideal marketing opportunity for businesses looking to penetrate this audience.

The Escapist community, who already demonstrate a higher than average engagement with our publication, increased their participation by leaving over 1600 comments during last year’s showdown,” said Tom Kurz, chairman and co-founder of The Escapist. “Internet marketing is growing faster than any other type of media, as companies are able to reach a wide audience for a small fraction of traditional advertising budgets. The Escapist provides a market medium that gives companies the ability to consistently engage their target customers.”

According to a November 2008 report published by eMarketer, in addition to its lower cost compared to traditional off-line media, the exposure, response and overall efficiency of Internet media are far easier to track as well as allow advertisers the ability to immediately view and evaluate their ROI.

From March 16 – April 8, 2009, The Escapist will post several March Mayhem contests matching each of the 64 participating game companies in a single elimination tournament. Participants visit the site every day and cast their votes until there is only one developer left standing. Total votes for March Mayhem exceeded 9,000 with more than 1,000 votes cast in the final game alone, which accounted for more than six percent of The Escapist’s daily traffic on the final day of the tournament.

“Because March Mayhem is judged by a developer’s number one audience — gamers — the tournament attracts a huge following of serious video gamers, industry execs and other gaming enthusiasts, from around the world,” said Alexander Macris, co-founder, president and CEO of The Escapist. “We anticipate an even more competitive tournament this year with developers such as Activision/Blizzard, Ubisoft Montreal, Nintendo and Turbine in the top spots of each division, and as last year’s winner strives to defend the title. We believe our unique approach to connecting with our audience is reinventing the impact that magazine-like entities can have in an online environment. We give our consumers what they want, and our steady and continued growth demonstrates that we are getting the formula right.”

Last year Turbine, Inc., a Westwood, Massachusetts-based computer game developer best known for Lord of the Rings Online, beat out Rock Band developer Harmonix taking home the win with support from their extremely strong following.

The rankings of all 64 participants are now posted on http://www.escapistmagazine.com/tournament/index. Participants of March Mayhem may register at http://www.escapistmagazine.com/global/registration/register.php to vote as well as plead their case for their developer of choice via The Escapist’s open forum beginning on March 16. Voting for the first round will commence March 19, and each game will last 24 hours beginning between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. EDT. During last year’s tournament, votes exceeded more than 900 each day and page views jumped 4.4% percent.

About The Escapist

Founded in 2005, The Escapist (escapistmagazine-com.go-vip.net) is a leading video gaming destination offering video game enthusiasts high-quality, innovative and exclusive content. The mouthpiece of the gaming generation, The Escapist aims to capture and celebrate the contemporary video gaming lifestyle and the diverse video game culture by way of in-depth features and thought provoking articles authored by leading video game authorities, as well as cutting-edge video shorts, engaging forums and robust and innovative social media elements tailored to its audience. Honored with both a Webby Award and People’s Voice Award in 2008, The Escapist is responsible for the web’s most viewed video game review series, Zero Punctuation, in addition to introducing the first-of-its-kind Internet Film Festival for Gamers and the March Mayhem game developer competition. The Escapist is part of Themis Group, Inc.’s online media arm Themis Media, and currently generates over 25 million page views each month.

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