Hot on the heels of yesterday's Xbox Live announcement from Microsoft, Sony has today confirmed that it will be releasing the official PlayStation 2 network adapter in the US on August 27th. Costing just $39.99, the adapter will allow PS2 owners to play games over the internet on both broadband and dial-up connections, and comes with a range of demos and trailers, as well as a coupon to get a free copy of Twisted Metal: Black Online. Some 250,000 PS2 network adapters will be shipped on the first day, with a total of 400,000 available by the end of the year, which will hopefully be enough to avert the kind of supply shortages that afflicted the Japanese launch earlier in the year. Sony promise that thirteen games will be playable online by the end of the year, including a plethora of new NFL and NBA games from Sega, Sony and EA Sports, cel-shaded motor racing game Auto Modellista from Capcom, Tony Hawk's 4 from Activision, and Sony's own SOCOM: US Navy SEALs. Looking further ahead, both EverQuest and Final Fantasy XI are due out in America next year, and a PS2 version of Star Wars Galaxies is also in the works. While Microsoft went for a centralised approach, where everything has to be run through their own Xbox Live servers and players are charged a fixed monthly fee for access to the network, Sony have gone for a more open system which has proven popular with third party publishers. Companies will be able to arrange their own server hosting deals and decide what (if anything) they want to charge players, which means that, unlike the Xbox, gamers will be able to use their PS2 online for free. The downside is that some games (particularly massively multiplayer titles) will no doubt charge fees, which could end up costing you more if you play a lot of premium games online. We'll have to wait and see how that one pans out. Whichever system turns out to be the best in the long run though, Sony seem to have the early advantage - they're first to market, slightly cheaper, have a much larger installed base to sell the service to, and their hardware supports a wider range of internet connections. And it certainly can't hurt that the latest in the chart topping Madden NFL series is going to be online exclusively on the PlayStation 2, with no sign of EA support for Xbox Live as yet. Related Feature - Xbox goes Live in November
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