To join the PlayStation 2 network gaming trial community, consumers must have a PlayStation 2 and a broadband connection. They must register their interest to participate in the trials by visiting uk.playstation.com and completing an online questionnaire. If subsequently accepted as a trial member they will then be able to purchase a 'starter kit' comprising: PlayStation 2 Network Adaptor, SOCOM USB Headset, and a special on-line only version of SOCOM: US Navy SEALs, the first network console game with voice communication between players. The PlayStation Network starter pack will be priced at £39.99 (plus postage and packing £5.00) and will be available through the PlayStation online shop (uk.playstation.com) only to players accepted onto the consumer trial.
Being a member of the trial community brings with it many advantages. This exclusive group of people will not only assist in trialing the consumer launch of PlayStation 2 network gaming, but the trial is open ended meaning that the community will be approached with many further games and applications in advance of their launch for their valued feedback. Whilst the version of SOCOM available in the PlayStation Network starter pack only features the on-line elements, participants who complete the trial will be sent a full gratis packaged copy of SOCOM: US Navy SEALs.
SOCOM: US Navy SEALs was the world's first network console game with voice communication between players. It has sold over 1 million copies in North America since it debuted in August 2002. Based upon the exploits of the US Navy SEALs (Sea-Air-Land), an elite squad of the most versatile combat troops, SOCOM (Special Operations Command) puts the player in charge of a team of SEALs as they engage terrorists in twelve of the most deadly missions. Play either in single player mode, commanding your team with voice commands issued through the SOCOM USB Headset, or else take on up to 16 players in groundbreaking network gameplay in separate multiplayer missions. Developed in association with US Navy Special Warfare command for ultimate realism, SOCOM: US Navy SEALs offers exhilarating gameplay with players communicating and planning strategies with fellow SEALs in both single and network modes.
The PlayStation 2 Ethernet Network Adaptor enables PlayStation 2 owners to access network multiplayer games through a participating broadband network. It plugs into a dedicated bay at the back of the PlayStation 2 designed specifically for this purpose, then links via an ethernet cable (supplied) to a broadband connection.
Broadband partners include Telewest Broadband, BT Openworld and BT Retail, NTL and Freeserve and they will each be offering competitive packages specifically tailored to PlayStation 2 network gaming.
Commenting on SCE UK's plans for the launch of PlayStation network gaming, Ray Maguire, Managing Director of SCE UK said, "This trial will enable PlayStation 2 owners with broadband connection to purchase a Network Adaptor and immediately start enjoying multiplayer network gaming with the market leading PlayStation 2. Starting with the groundbreaking experience of 16 player SOCOM with voice communication, PlayStation Network gaming will be exciting to play and affordable. The consumer trials will help determine the shape and nature of the commercial offering of this service. But rest assured, our ethos remains one of having a very diverse and inclusive platform that will enable content companies, games publishers and ISPs to provide consumers with the broadest selection of new network experiences and entertainment from a variety of sources."
"We believe that working with our partner ISPs, "Maguire continued, "offering a line-up of innovative network enhanced PlayStation games, coupled with the simplicity and affordability of our network set up, will accelerate broadband adoption in the UK and provide a further boost to the exponential growth of the total gaming market ."
The PlayStation 2 network gaming experience will be accessible through a wide range of broadband network partners and will be available through both cable and ADSL connections.
More details on the development of PlayStation 2 broadband network gaming will be posted on uk.playstation.com as they become available. The PlayStation website will also act as the focal point for recruitment of PlayStation 2 gamers for the initial trials..
The SCE UK announcement follows the highly successful launch of PlayStation 2 network gaming last year in North America and Japan. In both regions, PlayStation 2 has become the leading network console gaming platform.