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(May 21, 2001) -- Microsoft Corp.'s online game site,, has begun a relaunch designed to lure more casual gamers.

A campaign supporting the relaunch broke May 17 on entertainment and science fiction-oriented sites such as E! and and will broaden in mid-June. The effort, pegged at less than $1 million, was created by Freestyle Interactive, San Francisco, with Avenue A, Seattle, handling media buying.

The Zone's relaunch also coincides with a new online celebrity-based game show called "Outsmart." The first two-week installment of the episodic program features Jessica Alba, star of Fox Network's show Dark Angel. Players are treated to a prerecorded interview with Ms. Alba and then must answer questions about the show. Two additional stars, from music and movies, will also be featured on "Outsmart," though Zone executives declined to name them.

AT&T Wireless is sponsoring the debut of "Outsmart," and Microsoft is close to signing additional advertisers for future episodes. -- Tobi Elkin

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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