PS2 ready for Net

HOLLYWOOD — Kelly Flock has ankled his post as CEO and prexy of Sony Online Entertainment to pursue independent business opportunities.

Meanwhile, Sony on Thursday also said it will make its popular PlayStation 2 vidgame system adaptable for Internet gameplay sometime in August.

Flock joined SOE two years ago to head Sony’s online game development operations in San Diego. The group was formed in 1995, and has created the popular and profitable subscription-based title “EverQuest,” as well as interactive versions of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” It has since released new games like “Star Wars Galaxies” and “PlanetSide.”

Flock’s duties included supervising the development of interactive games by SOE and Sony-subsid Verant and overseeing the SOE Web site, Station@Sony.

Flock’s post will now be handled by SOE chief operating officer John Smedley, who reports to Yair Landau, prexy of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment.

“We have a very strong senior management team here at SOE,” Landau said. “I am very confident in SOE’s continued success.”

While Flock has yet to accept a new position, the longtime vidgame exec is likely to remain in the gaming world. Before SOE, he was a topper at Sony-owned game publisher 989 Studios, which developed the “EverQuest” game. Before Sony, Flock held senior exec posts at gamemakers LucasArts Entertainment, Electronic Arts and Activision.

PlayStation 2 goes Online

The move to Internet access has been a longtime goal for Sony since the company bowed the high-end game console in 2000. Eight million units of the PlayStation 2 have been sold.

Sony said it will begin testing games “Frequency” and “Twisted Metal” this month with 1,000 online players.

Unlike Microsoft’s Xbox, the PlayStation 2 does not feature any built-in network capabilities.

Sony plans to begin selling a network adapter for $39.99 in August, that will feature ports for both a dial-up modem and a broadband connection, allowing both low- and high-speed access. Any ISP will be compatible for use on the system, Sony said.

Additional details, including Sony Online Entertainment’s role with PlayStation 2′s new Web offerings, are expected to be announced at the E3 vidgame expo in May.

Microsoft launched its new Xbox console in November with a built-in Ethernet port. The software giant said it would launch online services this year.

Nintendo does not have any online plans for its GameCube console.

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