Sony adds Basic to PlayStation to sidestep EC import tax

A Sinclair Spectrum for the 21st Century?

Sony's attempts to get European tax officials to classify the PlayStation 2 as a computer and not a video game player aren't being restricted to court action.

According to Computer and Video Games magazine, the European PlayStation 2 package will contain a copy of YA-Basic, an open source implementation of the classic beginners' programming language*.

Sony will argue that since the PlayStation 2 can be programmed by users, it should be considered a home computer, not a games machine. The Japanese giant wants to persuade European Commission customs officers that the PlayStation 2 is a computer because the company will have to pay a two per cent import duty otherwise.

The YA-Basic bundle is exclusive to Europe, the only territory to impose a different import tariff on computers and game equipment. YA-Basic is likely to be fairly... er... basic, but it should provide coders with limited access to the console's 3D graphics engine. Programmers fed up with attempting to enter

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programs in in-store PlayStation 2s will be able to do so through an on-screen virtual keyboard. More serious users will be able to plug in a USB keyboard, C&VG notes.

Last week, Sony Computer Entertainment chief Ken Kutaragi said the company would even take the EC to court if it refused to budge on the issue. ®

* Actually, we have one guy in the office who learned programming using COBOL, but we won't embarrass the poor fellow by revealing his name. And, yes, we do know that thanks to that nice Mr Gates, Basic, Visual or otherwise, is no longer a beginners-only language.

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