Broadband console networks prepare to do battle

Broadband gamers can expect big changes in how they use their consoles, with the imminent arrival of high-speed network gaming. Microsoft’s Xbox Live will soon go head to head with Sony’s PlayStation2 online gaming service, triggering the latest escalation in the battle for teenage pocket money.

Both services will allow broadband internet users to play games online, talk to other players and download current statistics, new levels and characters.

Playing against friends over a fast internet connection is seen by many as the next big thing for both gaming and broadband, which has so far failed to produce a genuine killer application. Market research firm Screen Digest, for example, believes worldwide revenues for online gaming will be worth at least US$1 billion by 2006.

Microsoft, meanwhile, sees Xbox Live as an opportunity to finally make a dent in Sony’s domination of the console market, and has invested millions in a dedicated network.

As Microsoft and Sony fine-tune their online broadband service for a UK launch, broadband ISPs are busy jockying for position ahead of their arrival. A cable telco in the UK today invited 500 customers to take part in an Xbox Live trial, as part of Microsoft’s pan-European test drive.

Customers taking part will receive a hardware pack including a hub and cabling, allowing them to connect up their console, PC and cable modem. They will also receive an additional IP address and support information. Feedback from the trial will be used to shape the connectivity service prior to the full Xbox Live launch.

Customers can register their interest in the trial and will need to meet the following requirements:

-- 512kbps or 1MB blueyonder broadband internet customer for six months or more

-- Own an Xbox console

-- Already have successfully applied for an Xbox Live test pack from Microsoft.

Participation in the trial is being offered on a first-come-first-served basis, with no pricing details currently in the offing. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), by contrast, has announced it will begin selling "a broadband gaming pack" at the suggested retail price of £44.95 in time for its UK Springtime launch . The pack will include an ethernet adapter to internet-enable the PlayStation2 console, along with a game and a startup disc.

According to Sony, around a dozen online games will be on offer, including products from third-party developers such as Eidos, Electronic Arts, Take 2 and Capcom, as well as in-house games.

Both Microsoft and Sony will be hoping that in due course avid online gamers will be happy to pay monthly subscriptions to compete against other gamers, further building on an entertainment category that already generates $3 billion a year.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Guy Dixon

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?