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1995-2000
GamesFirst! Magazine

Sony Makes the Online Play
May 22, 2001

 

Sony announced several new partnerships and technology deals at E3, making a major play to enter the online gaming market before Microsoft can get its online bits in order. Both companies have professed the importance of online gaming to the success of console systems, and Sony has specifically illuminated desires to create an online distribution network for all kinds of gaming, movies, music, and other broadband entertainment applications.

The largest announcement was probably the deal between Sony and AOL to bring Netscape, and AOL client, and AOL Instant Messenger to the PlayStation 2. Sony demonstrated the Netscape browser for PS2 on the show floor, and it looked gorgeous on the newly announced PS2 LCD display. The browser handled cookies, javascript,and Flash websites with no problem, due in part to Sony’s recently announced alliance with Macromedia.

To further enhance the online entertainment value of the PS2, Sony also announced a deal with RealNetworks, makers of the popular Real Player 8. Real Player technology will be used to stream video data to PS2 units, and Sony has plans to make use of RealNetworks’ other applications as well. PS2 owners will be able to take advantage of hundreds of online radio stations and a multitude of sites using the Real Media format to stream video. In addition, Sony Computer Entertainment has also developed the Dynamic Network Authentication System, a proprietary version of RealNetworks’ RealSystem iQ technology, in order to manage secure copy distribution of video content on the PS2. This means that Sony’s plans to supply new release video and first run movies via the Internet is taking shape.

To better facilitate development of online games and utilities for the PS2, Sony has partnered with Cisco Systems, who will bring their Internet Protocol software to the PS2 in an optimized form. This software will be incorporated into the PS2 software development kit, and users will get the software with the Sony network adapter.

Of course, in order to access the Internet, or make use of broadband capabilities, the PS2 will have to be upgraded. Sony announced the release of its long-touted network adapter in November 2001 for a retail price of $39.95. The adapter features an 10/100 Base TX Ethernet jack for broadband connections, as well as a standard analog modem. This will allow gamers to connect to the Internet regardless of the availability of broadband in their area. To accent the network adapter, Sony also announced a 40 GB hard disk drive that will fit into the empty bay on the PS2.

Overall, Sony looks to be in the process of setting up a user-friendly way to get console gamers online. They are also pursuing their professed agenda of developing online entertainment distribution, and they plan to accent this technology with content from all divisions of Sony’s entertainment empire. By next Fall, the DVD playback function of the PS2 won’t be the only auxiliary function for the system.

Shawn Rider

 

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