Verizon Communications has released new software that allows PC and console gamers to set up their own servers to host multiplayer games on their own computers.
The PlayLinc software package, available as a free download, allows PC gamers to avoid costly server rental fees when hosting multiplayer sessions of games such as "Half Life 2" or "Quake 4," said Jason Henderson, Verizon games product manager. PlayLinc also is integrated with AOL's AIM instant-messaging service and includes voice support for up to 32 players, Verizon said.
"This is the first gaming messenger service that ... allows you to create your own server," Henderson said. "PlayLinc is different."
Until now, teams of gamers have been able to rent servers dedicated to the game they want to play, said Henderson, a screenwriter for several games, including "Freelancer" and "Deus Ex: Invisible War." But with PlayLinc, a group of players can play "Battlefield 2" one night and "Unreal Tournament" the next night.
"It allows them to be more casual about [creating servers]," Henderson said.
Other voice and instant-messaging software aimed at gamers is available, but they have typically not been tied together in one package, Henderson added.
Verizon hopes PlayLinc and its online games-on-demand service, launched nearly a year ago, will drive more customers to its broadband services, particularly the higher-speed, fiber-based FiOS Internet service, the company said.
Verizon's introduction of PlayLinc comes from the company's new relationship with Super Computer International (SCI) Inc., a provider of game-server hosting products and gaming portals. Verizon acquired an equity position in SCI in May.
PlayLinc is available at http://www.playlinc.com/index2.htm and users need an AIM or ICQ screen name to use the software. PlayLinc is compatible with about 1,600 PC and console games, Verizon said.