In a move that should get online gamers drooling, Sega and Sony have announced a plan that will allow users on different consoles to play against each other.
Online gaming is fast becoming a serious threat to other forms of entertainment. Already the combined PC and console-based computer gaming industry accounts for roughly the same amount of revenue as the film industry makes in box office sales. With online games being the fastest growing segment, thanks in part to deathmatch games like the Quake family and Counter Strike, the console side of the business risked being left behind.
Now Sega, maker of the discontinued DreamCast console, and Sony, with both of its PlayStation models, are in talks with Microsoft about interoperability with its Xbox console, which is scheduled to launch later this year.
Sega exited the hardware side of the business after sales of DreamCast failed to meet expectation. The company now focuses more on the game development side of the business. It is also in talks with Nintendo about possible online cooperation.
Sony, with the lion’s share of the market, wants the PlayStation II to become a home entertainment centre, capable of playing DVDs, CD music and surfing the net as well as being a games centre.
Microsoft’s Xbox will be the first console to launch with a built-in hard drive, which will allow game designers more freedom in their design. The use of Intel’s Pentium chip architecture means PC games will be easily ported to the Xbox.