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May 14, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:29pm


By CBR Staff Writer

The new version of British Telecommunications Plc’s Wireplay on- line games network will be launched at E3 in the US next month and the company hopes it will cope with demand better than the last version. Version 2 will support up to 1,000 players at once in the first instance, twice the current figure of 500 players. This is good news for the company because demand for registration at its launch at the end of last year (CI No 3,034) was so high that the system couldn’t deal with the capacity. Around 100,000 people tried to log on, according to Colin Duffy, head of games at British Telecom’s internet and multimedia services unit. The system is only designed for 50,000 registered players and Wireplay has been working to recover from the situation ever since. The initial overload is the reason why Wireplay has kept a low profile since launch. It had intended to cover mount 1 million disks to enable access to the service, but in the end settled at 90,000 cover mounts due to demand. Details of the new version are scarce. Essentially it will use a Windows 95 client and Internet technologies to broaden the range of multiplayer games users can enjoy on the system, although the games are not actually played over the internet, but the standard telephone network. In addition, the playing capacity will rise to 3,000 simultaneous players over the coming months. New games will be announced in addition to the 22 games currently linked to the service and Wireplay will be announced for two new countries next month as well, but British Telecom is not saying which. It is still planning to launch in the US through MCI Communications Corp this year, but the US is not believed to be one of the two countries to be announced next month. Wireplay has just announced a bundling agreement with AST Research Inc. Wireplay software will be distributed with every modem-equipped computer in the company’s Advantage range of PCs. The software will incorporate the Wireplay client so users can log onto the network and use the EF2000 flight simulation game.

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