Sony Corp. and America Online are becoming allies in the video game wars, with plans to link Sony's PlayStation 2 machine to the Web as a way to end-run Microsoft Corp.
The two mega-media giants unveiled a deal Tuesday that seals a partnership under discussion for the past several months. The deal calls for AOL to create software to enable instant messaging, chat and e-mail functions to run on the PlayStation 2. Sony hopes to get its own boost for the PlayStation 2 by leveraging AOL's established brand and base of 29 million users. AOL gets a bigger presence on the small screen. Sony and AOL aim to stake out leadership positions in services based on high-speed communications links to the home.
Video game machines such as the versatile PlayStation 2 are seen bridging a technological gap to challenge dominance of the PC. The system already can play DVD movies, as well as games, and may be enhanced with modems for communications and accessories to let consumers download and store files. Microsoft has similar plans for its forthcoming video-game system, dubbed the Xbox.
Sony has shipped 10 million PlayStation 2 systems worldwide to date and is shooting for another 10 million by April 2002.