|Sony's PlayStation 2 will offer dial-up and broadband access options for online gaming.
Microsoft & Nintendo
Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo revealed their own competing strategies at E3. Microsoft announced it was preparing to spend $2 billion in a five year marketing push for online and offline versions of its Xbox console game system. Nintendo, on the other hand, is aiming for a modest online gaming presence as it focuses on promoting a proprietary connectivity concept linking GameBoy Advance and GameCube systems.
Sony, which has shipped 30 million PS2 video-game consoles globally, said it will offer both dial-up and broadband Internet options for online gaming. This dial-up/broadband approach differed from Microsoft's exclusive emphasis on broadband.
AOL and PS2
But Sony maintains that the slow rollout of broadband in North America means consumers will need both options, broadband and narrowband. AOL Time Warner's America Online is the featured Internet service provider on the PS2 console, but Sony has deals with Earthlink and other ISPs as well.
Starting Aug. 27, Sony will offer a $40 Ethernet/analog network adaptor for the PS2 that will come a start-up CD-ROM, memory card, game demos and a mail-in coupon to redeem the online version of the video game "Twisted Metal Black."
Sony now has five online titles for the PS2 developed from its own studios. Nine other publishers will develop online games for the console. The company, citing its own research, said 68% of gamers ages 13 to 34 play games with friends and 29% play with friends and by themselves.
Online fee resistance
More than 60% of those surveyed said additional fees are barriers to online gaming. Still, that isn't stopping Sony from charging $59.99 for "SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals," a multiplayer online game based on the special forces unit. Up to 16 people can play on the broadband-only game.
In other news, Sony kicked off its $250 million brand campaign this week by Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., that introduces the tagline "Live in your world. Play in Ours." Los Angeles is plastered with outdoor advertising featuring the line; major media flights are set for the fall and holiday time periods.