A deal between Sony and AOL forged two years ago is close to bearing fruit. Amid much fanfare at E3 last week, AOL demonstrated an instant messaging service for use with the PlayStation 2.
The AOL service will require the use of a hard drive for the PS2. The 40GB Sony peripheral is already available in Japan and is due for release in North America in early 2004.
"I would expect the time (for the AOL service) to be in and around the same time" as the hard drive, said Kaz Hirai, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America.
AOL says the “AIM Talk” feature of the service would allow gamers to converse with each other, as well as AIM users in the PC realm, via a voice headset.
The PS2 messaging service will also include expected fare like streaming music, movie trailers, and TV clips. A feature called “AOL Players Club” will show members executing special moves in Sony games.
Also at the E3 show this week, Sony showed a video camera peripheral for PS2, saying that videoconferencing was one of the applications envisioned for the console.
Last month AOL asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to lift restrictions preventing it from offering advanced features like video conferencing with its instant messaging service.
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