NTT Broadband Initiative Inc. (NTT-BB), Sony Communication Network Corp. (SCN) and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) have reached an agreement that NTT-BB and SCN will provide broadband network services for SCEI's PlayStation 2 (PS2) game console, the three companies announced Tuesday.
The service will allow PS2 users to download large volume entertainment content such as games, music and movies.
"Networking games doesn't immediately mean that users can play peer-to-peer fighting games," said Masami Nakamura, a spokeswoman for SCEI. "We are hoping software makers will create new ways of entertainment using PS2 with broadband," she said.
SCEI's announcement ups the ante in what is expected to be heated competition among console makers for the attention of Japanese gamers.
On Wednesday, just one day after SCEI's announcement, Microsoft Corp. said that the Japanese launch of its Xbox game console had been delayed by at least a week, as the company seeks to develop its own online gaming offerings and online services for the console.
Scheduled to go on sale on Feb. 22, the Xbox is now scheduled to begin shipping sometime in March, according to Richard Belluzzo, president and chief operating officer (COO) of Microsoft.
"We decided to take more time (launching Xbox in Japan) to be able to make more of an investment around online gaming and online services that go with the Xbox," Belluzzo said.
NTT-BB and SCN will provide systems for content delivery for PS2 users via ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) or FTTH (fiber to the home) networks. SCEI, which has been preparing to give PS2 high-speed networking since July this year, will provide PS2 users with the broadband unit, which consists of a 40G-byte hard disk drive and a 100M bps (bits per second) Ethernet connection.
The service also includes an authentication system called DNAS (Dynamic Network Authentication System), which protects content copyright, blocks access to some content from under-age users and will remove some content after a limited distribution period, SCEI said.
The content for the service will be in hands of game software makers and other content developers, and fees will be decided by NTT-BB, SCN and other broadband service providers that are expected to join, Nakamura said.
The three companies plan to start the service from the second quarter of next year in Japan, and SCEI hopes to expand PS2's broadband networking services to users in the rest of the world later, SCEI's Nakamura said.