Ma Bell, Meet Joe Gamer: Sony Online Entertainment Ushers in New Era of Voice Chat for Online Games With Powerful Suite of Communication Services

- SOE Gives In-Game Chat an Audio Overhaul in Agreement with Vivox® -


Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE), a worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online games, is poised to revolutionize the way gamers stay connected with sophisticated new voice services where fellow gamers and guild mates are never more than a shout away.

Need standard chat for groups and raids? Check. Don't want to tie up your own bandwidth? Roger that. Want your voice to sound completely different? Done. Late for your raid but want to take part in the group setup by cell phone? Can do. Dream of having in-game voicemail? There ya go. Playing a non-SOE game but want to use this service, free of charge? Aye.

These powerful community building features and tools are coming to SOE games at no additional cost to players and go far beyond basic real-time chat with the usual headset and microphone setup that is commonly used today.

In an agreement announced Wednesday at the Game Developers Conference between SOE and Vivox, Inc., an established provider of high quality voice communications, players will be able to access a suite of voice communication tools including voice mail, voice fonts to synthesize player voices into in-game character voices, and the ability to receive external calls in SOE games.

"We're proud to offer this level of communication power and flexibility to gamers. These new voice services not only replace many of the voice chat options currently available but add a broad range of capabilities that streamline communication and empower gamers to maintain their online relationships in both the real and virtual worlds," said John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment. "We are giving gamers the ultimate one-stop shop to stay in touch at all times."

Beyond voice and guild chat channels, North American players will get a special PIN number to dial in from either a land line or cell phone and connect with fellow guild members. SOE anticipates adding additional features including voicemail, broadcast messages, SMS text messaging and an initial offering of six high-quality voice fonts that replace a player's actual voice with something completely different.

With the 3D voice chat, players will be able to walk their avatars into the taverns in EverQuest II, for example, and strike up a conversation with players like they would walking into a tavern or restaurant in the real world. Gamers can manage their conversations with buddy lists, volume controls and commands to leave and join audio channels at will.

SOE's plan is to add these services to SOE's games, as well as integrate it with SOE's Station Launcher, so anyone who uses the Station Launcher, even if they don't otherwise subscribe to an SOE game, can take advantage of these powerful voice chat capabilities. Furthermore, the voice features will be hosted and professionally managed on the Vivox Network so users won't be cutting into their valuable bandwidth.

"We are thrilled to team up with SOE to bring Vivox voice chat and related services to their game community," said Rob Seaver, CEO of Vivox. "SOE is an industry leader with a long history of offering exceptional games and innovative services to players. Their plan to offer such a comprehensive voice service to their gamers is just another reflection of their commitment to delivering the best possible game experience and fostering community."

SOE's current catalog of massively multiplayer online games includes EverQuest®, EverQuest® II, Star Wars Galaxies, PlanetSide and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, as well as upcoming titles such as The Agency.

About Sony Online Entertainment

Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) is a recognized worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online games, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers around the globe. SOE creates, develops and provides compelling entertainment for the personal computer, online, game console and wireless markets. Known for its blockbuster franchises and hit titles including EverQuest®, EverQuest® II, Champions of Norrath®, Untold Legends™, and PlanetSide®, as well as for developing Star Wars Galaxies™, SOE continues to redefine the business of online gaming and the creation of active player communities while introducing new genres on various entertainment platforms. Headquartered in San Diego, CA, with additional development studios in Austin, TX, Seattle, WA, Denver, CO and Taiwan, SOE has an array of cutting-edge games in development. SOE is owned by Sony Pictures Digital and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

About Vivox, Inc.

Vivox provides high quality, massively scalable voice chat for online games and virtual worlds. Developers can enhance game play and foster community with Vivox's advanced feature set and unparalleled service. Today, the Vivox Network supports millions of users in more than 180 countries. Customers include CCP Games, Icarus Studios, K2 Network, Linden Lab, Metaversum, Pixel Mine Games, Simutronics, Sony Online Entertainment, Stratics, Wizards of the Coast and others. For more information:

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SOURCE: Sony Online Entertainment LLC

CONTACT: Courtney Simmons of Sony Online Entertainment LLC,
+1-760-505-7879,; or Jennifer Frkanec of Vivox, Inc.,

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