From Allakhazam:


- In an unprecedented merger of gaming assets, online gamers will be able to take their existing characters into new and exciting adventures in other gaming worlds.

SAN DIEGO, CA - March 31, 2005 - Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), Square-Enix (S-E) and Blizzard Entertainment (Blizzard), the worldwide leaders in Massive Online gaming, have announced a joint venture where players of any of their games, including the enormously successful World of Warcraft, the granddaddy of online gaming Everquest, S-E's hugely successful online version of the Final Fantasy franchise, and the popular titles Everquest 2 and Star Wars Galaxies, can take their existing characters and move seamlessly into new gaming worlds. Through new technology developed jointly by all three companies, your character will be converted over to the rule set and graphical look of each new game as you transfer back and forth, opening up literally tens of thousands of new gaming possibilities for every player. Players of all these games will suddenly be confronted with not just new zones to play in, but entire new universes.

"We have been looking for ways to add more end game content to World of Warcraft, and this just seemed a natural fit" said Mike Morhaime, President of Blizzard Entertainment. "This gives our players instant access to a range and depth of content that would otherwise take us years to develop through our current schedule. Now you can simply pick up and walk into another universe and open up an entire set of new and unique content"

"The enormous success of World of Warcraft proves that there is a large market for online gaming" said John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment. "We decided that the best way to tap this market is to combine all of our assets into what is in effect one massive, massive-multiplayer game. By opening up more content and variety like this, our player base can only benefit and thrive."

The details of the agreement will be released in more details later. The current timeline calls for the merger to be completed by May 16th, in time for a complete demonstration at the Electronic Entertainment Expo held annually in Los Angeles. The companies have put together a transition team lead by venerable programmer Raph Koster of SOE that will finalize the details of the changes that will be needed in each game to make the transitions from game to game smooth and consistent. "Some things are going to have to change in each game to make this work" said Mr. Koster. "Expect each class in each game to get altered somewhat to allow them to fit into the new rule sets. We are excited about the possibilities of how this can improve the gaming structure of all our franchises."

Each company plans on releasing more detailed statements on their respective websites over the next few weeks explaining to the players the impact of this agreement on their specific games.

About Blizzard Entertainment

Best known for their series Warcraftฎ, StarCraftฎ, and Diabloฎ, Blizzard Entertainment (www.blizzard.com, a division of Vivendi Universal Games) is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating many of the industry's most critically acclaimed games. The company's free Internet gaming service Battle.netฎ provides a forum in which owners of Blizzard's games can play in a multiplayer mode remotely across the Internet and against other gamers from around the world.

About Sony Online Entertainment

Sony Online Entertainment Inc. (SOE), a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Digital Inc., is a recognized worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online games, with a subscriber base of over 800,000 active accounts 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, EverQuestฎ, EverQuest II, Champions of Norrath and PlanetSideฎ, as well as for developing Star Wars Galaxies(TM): An Empire Divided(TM), 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 an additional development studio in Austin, TX, SOE has an array of cutting-edge online games in development.

About Square Enix Co., Ltd. and Square Enix, Inc.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Square Enix Co., Ltd. (Square Enix) develops, publishes and distributes entertainment content including interactive entertainment software and publications in Japan, North America, Europe and Asia. Square Enix brings two of Japan’s best-selling franchises – FINAL FANTASYฎ, which has sold over 60 million units worldwide, and DRAGON QUEST™, which has sold over 35 million units worldwide—under one roof. Square Enix is one of the most influential providers of digital entertainment content in the world and continues to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation.

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