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Sony To Take Controversial Online Game to PS2

9 Apr, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) will develop and publish EverQuest Online Adventures for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system by next spring, the company announced today.

The new format extends the reach of the game from its present audience of PC gamers to a console market with a voracious appetite for new games.

"We have seen phenomenal success with the original EverQuest. The look, feel and functionality of the game provided the foundation on which we built a truly unique console-focused game,'' said Sony Online Entertainment. COO John Smedley. "Relying on the many insights we have gained from EverQuest over the past three years, we strongly believe that EverQuest Online Adventures has what it takes to be a major success on the PlayStation 2."

The company wants to make EverQuest Online Adventures the world's premier online-only console game, bringing the player interaction and community to a new audience of console gamers.

"We feel there is a ton of potential with 9 million Playstations out there in the market. That's also a different market," said SOE spokesperson Christy Fritz.

"It might appeal to a little younger audience because it's more of a ‘pick-up-and-play' game," she said, noting the joystick controls and other adjustments for PS2 tailor the game for a younger audience.

The announcement comes as Sony is under fire from New York legislators who contend the game should carry a warning that it triggers epiliptic seizures and a Milwaukee mother is threatening to sue the game giant, alleging the online version led to her 21-year-old son's suicide.

New York legislators are mulling a bill from Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli, D-Nassau County, that would require warnings that the games may trigger epileptic seizures on the game boxes and posted in stores that rent or sell video games. Violators would be fined $50 per sale or rental if the bill passes.

The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) opposes the measure, contending there is no scientific evidence that video games cause seizures.

Hudson, Wis., resident Elizabeth Woolley feels otherwise. She blames her son Shawn's suicide on EverQuest and plans to sue Sony Online, also to force warnings about the online game.

She admits her son had other problems, including epilepsy, before he killed himself last Thanksgiving. But she contends the game triggered seizures in him at least eight times and is fighting Sony to gain access to her son's account in the hope she will find answers there.

Fritz said the company would not comment on theWoolley matter and that she was unaware of the New York bill.

Meanwhile, SOE promises EverQuest Online Adventures is a new game designed to take full advantage of the PlayStation 2 system's capabilities. But like the original EverQuest, it will feature intricate character development, continuous player interaction and a sense of community.

With an installed base of more than 8.8 million units in the U.S., the PlayStation 2 represents an opportunity to expand the massively multiplayer online role-playing game onto new platforms, delivering a whole new genre to the console gamer.

"Quite simply, there is no other console game like this," said Don Vercelli, VP of sales and marketing, Sony Online Entertainment.

Using the PlayStation 2 system's network adaptor, available in stores this August, the manufacturer promises EverQuest Online Adventures will connect seamlessly to the Internet, directing players to dedicated EverQuest Online Adventures servers. By connecting directly to dedicated servers, SOE can help ensure low latency gameplay and fast connection times. Gamers simply insert the disc and the world of Norrath is just a few clicks away.

Sony Online Entertainment Inc. (SOE), the online gaming division of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, is headquartered in San Diego, Calif.

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