Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) and America Online (AOL) have formed an alliance that will allow PlayStation 2 game console users to access the web, visit chat rooms and send and receive emails using the AOL service.
As part of the agreement, SCE will provide the network adapter for PlayStation 2 that will let users access the AOL internet features and play web-enabled games.
The two companies will also explore other interactive entertainment initiatives such as broadband and the development of a Netscape browser to optimise the internet experience on PlayStation 2.
The first products will be available in the US and the companies said they expect a worldwide rollout by the end of the year. Specific countries have not yet been announced.
To use the more advanced interactive features, PlayStation 2 users will have to buy additional hardware such as a hard disk drive, LCD display, keyboard and mouse, which will be available by the end of the year.
Ken Kutaragi, president and chief executive at SCE, said: "Given our shared corporate vision and power for the evolution of online computer entertainment, AOL and SCE make ideal partners."
He said that just as PlayStation 2 ushered in a new era of computer entertainment, the two companies are now "escalating the evolution of great gaming experiences into what will become a highly interactive, real-time broadband network environment".
Peter Ashton, president of product strategy at AOL, called the agreement "an obvious extension of our AOL Anywhere strategy", adding that AOL was just beginning talks with developers on how the games would brand the features within the games.
PlayStation 2, launched last March, has shipped more than 10 million machines as of last month.
Executives at both companies did not disclose how the revenue from this alliance would be split between the two.
RISC OS 5 to form the basis of RISC OS Open after Castle Technology sells to RISC OS Developments
A smartphone maker fiddling its benchmarking scores? That's unusual, isn't it?
'We are making good progress on 10nm,' claims Intel
Engineer calculates that Chengdu's plan to replace streetlights with artificial moonlight would cost $100bn