RealTime IT News

Games Get AIM

AOL today announced a new kit that promises to make it easier to integrate its AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) into video games.

The new AOL Messaging Software Developer Kit (SDK) offers developers the opportunity to AIM- or ICQ-enable their games. An integrated buddy list will let gamers see when their friends are online and ping them to play a game. The SDK also allows for IM integration within live play, including game-specific AIM expressions, icons and sounds.

AOL's Messaging SDK for game developers promises to reduce the demand on customer service by letting designers create automated bots to handle questions from gamers.

According to AOL spokesperson Krista Thomas, the SDK is a response to demand from game developers for an automated way to build AIM into games.

Like the free public AIM client itself, AOL provides the ability to add basic AIM presence into a game for free.

"We do ask for licensing terms, including license fees, for complete AIM integration from the ground up," Thomas said.

AIM already has been integrated into online play. The Matrix Online massively multi-player online game from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and SEGA provided AIM presence awareness and communication capabilities.

IM within games is not limited to the AIM network. Last year Microsoft launched a new subscription-based IM gaming service called MSN Instant Games Clubhouse. The service allows for one-to-one competition in a number of Games, including chess and Wheel of Fortune. However, according to an MSN spokesperson there is no MSN Messenger SDK for game developers at this time.

AOL's announcement comes on the eve of the E3 entertainment expo, opening on Tuesday in Los Angeles.