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Sony unveils UK PS2 online gaming beta plans

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Consumers in the UK will get their first taste of PlayStation 2 online gaming at the end of this month, as public trials for broadband users begin on March 31st with an online starter kit being made available to selected users.

In order to be eligible to test the service, interested parties must register at the uk.playstation.com website by completing a questionnaire. Only those accepted at this stage will be able to purchase the starter kit, which comprises a PS2 network adapter, USB voice headset and a special online-only version of military action title SOCOM: US Navy SEALs.

The starter kit is priced at £39.99 and will only be available initially through the UK PlayStation online shop, although when the service finally rolls out in full - hopefully later this year - a version of the starter kit will be available through conventional retail channels. Participants in the trial will also receive a free fully-featured copy of SOCOM at the end of the trial period.

Like Xbox Live, the PS2 online service will be purely for broadband users, and Sony is working with major players in both ADSL and cable services including Telewest, BT Openworld, NTL and Freeserve, each of whom plans to offer packages specifically designed for PS2 owners. This leaves Nintendo's GameCube as the only console to support conventional modem connections for online gaming.

Sony's bullish attitude to the competition over online gaming continues, with a press release this morning pointedly noting that the PS2 is the most successful online gaming system in both the USA and Japan.

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