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Sony Launches Online Entertainment and Game Unit

March 14, 2000|From Bloomberg News

Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Entertainment said it has created a unit to develop online entertainment and games as it prepares content for users of high-speed Web connections and PlayStation 2.

The new unit, called Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, will publish online entertainment based on the company's movies and TV shows as well as develop original games and programs. The unit also will oversee production of digital special effects for Sony's movies.

Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment will take control of three existing Sony units: Sony Pictures Imageworks, which created the animated rodent in the movie "Stuart Little"; Sony Online Entertainment, which publishes online games such as "Everquest" and "Wheel of Fortune"; and Columbia TriStar Interactive, which produces online entertainment such as "Dawson's Desktop."

The move to link production and distribution comes as Sony tries to develop digital entertainment that it hopes to eventually deliver through its PlayStation 2 video game console, which connects to a TV. The Tokyo-based company sees the game system superseding the personal computer as the main hub for providing online games, movies, music and other services and entertainment.

"We're going to be providing content and services on that platform," said Yair Landau, a Sony executive heading the new unit. "This is a broadband vision for the entertainment and content side."

Landau said the unit's programming and games will be available to PC users.

The PlayStation 2 was introduced in Japan earlier this month and is expected to reach U.S. retail stores around Oct. 1. The device isn't equipped with a modem, though Sony plans to introduce one when high-speed Internet connections become more widespread.

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