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GAMEBREAKS: PlayStation 2 Add-On Bypasses Movie Regional Coding; Lord of the Rings Goes Wireless; Sony’s Summer Jam; Sega Unveils Online Pay Structure

20 Jul, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

PlayStation 2 Add-On Bypasses Movie Regional Coding

A U.K.-based company has begun selling an accessory that allows PlayStation 2 owners to bypass DVD movie regional coding. Datel(www.datel.co.uk) began advertising its DVD Region X (PS2) in British gaming magazines last month and indicated it has plans to launch it in the United States at an unspecified date.

DVD Region X is a $28software/hardware combination that allows users to switch among regional codes. The user plugs the device into the PlayStation 2 memory cardslot, loads the Region X CD-ROM, reboots the console and follows the on-screen instructions for changing regions.

Datel stresses that Sony has not endorsed the unlicensed product, but that hasn’t stopped the company in the past. Datel is the original creator and currentmanufacturer of the InterAct GameShark, a popular cheat code accessory that has frustrated Sony and Nintendo by allowing consumers to tweakgame play by getting unlimited lives or weapons or bypassing levels.

DVD Region X is likely to be more popular in Europe, where consumers are eager to get their hands on U.S. movies before they are released on the continent, although sources suggested there may be a U.S. market forPlayStation 2 owners eager to be able to play original Japanese anime or Hong Kong action films.

A Datel spokesman says U.S. consumers can buy the device online before any North American retail launch. —David Ward

Lord of the Rings Goes Wireless

While discussions are still ongoing between Electronic Arts and New Line Cinema for the video game rights to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, wireless content provider Riot Entertainment (www.riot-E.com) has inkeda deal with New Line to bring wireless content to mobile users worldwide based on The Lord of the Rings trilogy during the next three years.

Interactive games and other entertainment content based on the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, will be available late this summer in the United States, Europe and Asia. A variety of products will develop from simple SMS services to multiplayer experiences on a 3G platform during the lifespan of the rights.

Already boasting a potential global wireless community of 110 million through partnerships with mobile phoneoperators in Europe and Asia, Riot-E anticipates that its potential user numbers will rise to 300 million by the end of the summer as it entersthe U.S. wireless market.

The first film of the New Line Cinema trilogy,The Fellowship of the Ring, premieres Dec. 19. The second and third films — The Two Towers and Return of the King — are scheduled to launch inDecember 2002 and 2003 respectively. —John Gaudiosi

Sony’s Summer Jam

Sony Computer Entertainment America has released its annual Jampack Summer 2001 disc, which retails for $7.99 wherever PlayStation 2 games are sold. Included on the disc are playable demos of Sony’s ATV Offroad Fury, Cool Boarders 2001 and ICO; THQ’s MX 2002 Featuring Ricky Carmichael and Red Faction; Konami’s Zone Of The Enders; LucasArts’ Star Wars Starfighter and Eidos’ Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver 2. —John Gaudiosi

Sega Unveils Online Pay Structure

Sega of America will be the first console video game company to enter the online subscription arena when it ships Phantasy Star Online Version 2 ($39.99) Sept. 11. The upgraded version of Phantasy Star Online will require users to pay $15 for three months of unlimited service.

A Sega spokeswoman told Video Store Magazine that while the original game will continue to allow free online play, the enhanced version, which is aimed at hardcore gamers, will require payment. For the online charge, gamers will get approximately three to five new quests per month, additional items and other mini-games like Lobby Soccer.

Version 2 is not a sequel to the original game; it’s more like the original plus an expansion pack. As a result, casual gamers who bought the original aren’t likely to purchase this upgrade or pay a monthly subscription. The game’s only worth stocking as a rental if you don’t already have the original, since the online functions won’t work without a three-month commitment.

It will be interesting to see how many of the 240,000-plus worldwide online players of the first game are willing to pay to play this enhanced version. —John Gaudiosi

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