- You probably saw the multiple recent GameTap announcements that the Turner-owned PC service will be broadening with "a free to play, ad-supported version of the service launching May 31st, and a new digital retail storefront debuting with Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary", among other things.

But I noted more detail from a couple of fronts - firstly, Angled Whiteboards added some feature set info, explaining that some of the new service-wide features will include "...user ratings, related games, user profiles and avatars, forums, enhanced search, shared playlists, quick game launch, and more." Oh, and this is the first time I've seen the King of Fighters series stealth-confirmed for network play, too.

On the other hand, and to present an intriguing contrary view, I note that Microsoft Casual Games biz dev guy Kim Pallister has posted a short note on the changes, commenting: "This announcement today that Gametap is adding more types of content (current release PC titles), and more business models (ad-supported/free, paid download) to its already wide mix of offerings... I don't believe it's going to help."

Pallister suggests: "As I've said before, I think their problem is that they don't offer a clear best-of-breed, 100% complete solution to any one customer need. Just many things, none of them well." Is Pallister, who is somewhat involved in XBLA, right? I'm not really sure - I know that I just bought a Media Center PC for my living-room partially so I can play GameTap with a wireless X360 controller, but I also know that I'm certainly way into the hardcore gamer niche who might be charmed by some of GameTap's more eclectic offerings. YMMV!

[Oh yeah, and for those of you who miss Gamasutra features editor Frank Cifaldi, who recent left to join the GameTap rabble, he's already turned up on GameTappers.net hinting slyly: "Tomb Raider Anniversary and Tomb Raider Legend are not the only great Eidos games coming soon to GameTap. In fact, peering into the Looking Glass, you'll find another great game that might Steal your free time away very soon." Gorsh!]