Sony's SCEI to Sell Games Online

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI), a unit of Japan's Sony Corp., has announced plans to launch an online shopping service. Although the company will begin by simply selling games software, SCEI has much larger plans.

The company will form a wholly owned subsidiary, PlayStation.com Japan Inc., on Feb. 1 and plans to begin operations in the middle of February, SCEI said in a statement. Initially, the company will offer games and accessories for the company's PlayStation 2 next-generation games console, which will go on sale in Japan on March 4. Goods ordered through the service will be delivered offline.

In the future, SCEI plans to make PlayStation.com Japan a central part of its plans to deliver digital content via high-speed lines to PlayStation 2 owners.

More than just a games console, the PlayStation 2 will offer support for DVD Video, be able to function as a set-top box Internet access device and also feature a PC-Card interface through which it can be connected to broadband networks [See "Sony's Playing No Games with PlayStation2," Sep. 13, 1999].

It is through these broadband networks that SCEI plans to deliver games, audio and video content from 2001. For some customers, the connection will come through a digital cable TV network although, because such systems are not widespread in Japan, Sony is also building its own wireless network to support the system.

The new service will be available on the Internet at http://www.jp.playstation.com/.

SCEI, in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.scei.co.jp/.

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