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Demand for Game Consoles is on the Rise

As you head for the movie theatre to take in the usual wave of Summer releases, you might want to take note of an interesting development. According to Beverly Macy Vice President of Marketing for Marina Del Rey-based SoftAware Networks, the latest research shows that some time next year, the annual revenue for computer games will surpass the domestic revenue for feature films. In fact, it is estimated that more than 100 million game consoles will be purchased in 2000.

Some of the world's biggest players are already gearing up for this huge market. Case and point: Redmond-based Microsoft is making its first-ever foray into hardware by developing the X-box video game console. The company provided a sneak preview of the product at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

Although the new game console is still early in development, the company predicts game-designers will have an easier time making titles for X-box. According to Robert Bach Senior VP of Microsoft's Gaming Division, developers don't have to go down a big learning curve. "They can get started today, and work on a PC to develop games for X-box." However, according to Macy, all of the cutting-edge game consoles (such as Microsoft's X-box and Sony's playstation just have one thing in common: they are all wired to allow users to compete with and against people all around the world via the Internet. "The Internet as it presently exists, cannot successfully link gamers for real-time action unless they happen to live very close to each other -- coast-to-coast and country-to-country interactivity just doesn't work yet," says Macy.

Macy's company is building a global Internet network that can offer a solution. SoftAware's global server network will allow people all around the world to use existing and future game consoles to play against each other in real time. The new product consists of dedicated servers placed around the globe, intelligent routers to redirect latency-sensitive traffic to SoftAware's high-speed private network bypassing the congested public Internet, and proprietary network management software. "The one-way push is not enough. Even streaming content will have to be interactive to be widely adopted," says Macy.