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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • Sony Communication Network to Enhance Internet Game Site
  • November 30, 1998 (TOKYO) -- Sony Communication Network Corp., an Internet service provider within the Sony Corp. group, said it will launch a game site called "Party Crew" as part of its strategy to bolster the online services offered through its Web site.
    Party Crew will begin operating in March 1999.

    The company plans to equip Party Crew with a range of network game features.

    Players will be able to chat online while engaging in games, as well as to form teams to compete against each other. Subscription to the service will be open to everyone, not just enrolled members of So-net, its Internet access service.

    Sony Communication has two main business platforms: the So-net connection service and the provision of online content. Content services comprise karaoke music, astrological forecasts and other information for subscribers.

    Sony Communication projects that the content category will gain larger sales after launching the Party Crew game site. In the first three years, the company aims to sign up 300,000 subscribers to the site and to provide 30 game titles.

    Two game titles will be available when the site launches, and three more will be added by the autumn, the company said. Each title is expected to cost around 500 yen (US$4) per month for unlimited access.

    "Jong Plugged," a mahjong game, will be one of the five titles. The game permits players to see the previous scores of would-be opponents. Players can even change the rules, to exclude specific tiles from a game, for instance, which gives it a different flavor from ordinary mahjong.

    Games will be available in Japanese at the start, and Sony Communication plans to provide an English service "for any titles that prove popular," said Sony Communication director, Yutaka Hoshina.

    The company aims for annual sales of 1.8 billion yen (US$14.8 million) from the game site after the first three years. If this sales target is achieved, content services will comprise 15 percent of total sales of content plus Internet connection services in the fourth year, Hoshina added.

    (BizTech News Dept.)

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    Updated: Fri Nov 27 23:45:32 1998 PDT