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Sun Targets Games People Play

Sun Microsystems Wednesday set its crosshairs on the multi-million dollar gaming industry with the formal establishment of the Sun Game Technologies Group.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker said Chris Melissinos has been tapped to play the part of Chief Gaming Officer and to oversee Sun's efforts to coach online gaming companies on huge swings in demand computing and client/server issues. Melissinos says Sun is well equipped for the task.

"I like to think that the biggest Massive multiplayer game is Wall Street because you have millions of connections from millions of people with all of the reliability and scalability," Melissinos told internetnews.com. "We have been working in this space for close to 20 years and that is why we can approach this with great success in building a high performance transactional environment."

The Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) marketplace has been gaining lots of momentum and creating its own buzz. Redwood City, Calif.-based MMOG network developer Zona, estimates the number of dollars spent on MMOG subscriptions will jump to USD$2.7 billion by 2006.

Sun has been quietly involved in the gaming industry for the past two years having participated in the Game Developer Conference and E3 as well as hosted the javagaming.org, a discussion forum where developers can discuss and share ideas on Java technology in the industry.

The "Law and Order" series of online games as well as "Vampire of the Masquerade" by Activision, the "You Don't Know Jack" series and various flight simulator games.

To that end, Sun said it has also been working behind the scenes with key players like Electronic Arts (EA) , Sony and BioWare to figure out what companies involved in massive, online, multi-player gaming need to run simultaneous environments.

"We are also focusing on a secondary tier and building the deeper logic to run these complex environments," Melissinos said. "When you look at how systems are set up now, there is a lot of waste because the gaming community generally uses one server for one game. We intend to bring a solution set to build a first game on a system and then use it for a second set of games without tearing the whole thing down."

Next week at the JavaOne Conference in San Francisco, Sun is hosting a Video Game Summit. The three-day event offers case studies, developer insight, game demos and techniques highlighting the use of Java technology in modern game development.

Sun said the plan is also to extend Java and its Solaris server technology to game players and developers on the millions of network connected desktops, consoles and mobile devices emerging as gaming platforms.

"It's not about getting an EverQuest game on a cell phone, but more like what about those games can you put on that device," Melissinos said.

For example, Melissinos says one of the aspects of Sony's Grand Turismo racing game is tweaking a racer in the shop. With Sun's way of doing things, Melissinos says changing either the profile or other aspects of the vehicle could be done on a different form factor like a PDA or even a smartphone.

While Melissinos stopped short of saying the company would produce its own standalone gaming console like PS2, he did say that it won't be too long that other networked gaming devices would sport a Java-compatible sticker.

Except, he says, don't count on the Xbox showing of a Java sticker any time soon.