Telewest gears up for multiplayer gaming

Blueyonder games subscribers can now book 14 hours of server time each month - ideal for creating personalised competitions with friends

With multiplayer Internet gaming set to be one of broadband's 'killer applications', Telewest has relaunched its online gaming service.

The cable firm announced on Monday that it has now added several new features to blueyonder games -- as well as introducing a subscription fee of £3 per month, or £2 per month for customers who also use blueyonder as their ISP.

The blueyonder games servers run many multiplayer computer games, including Unreal Tournament, Counter-Strike and Command & Conquer. Paying customers will now be able to book up to 14 hours of server time per month, letting them create games and competitions with their own choice of settings to which they can just invite their friends, or open up to the public.

Only the player who books the server is actually "billed" for the time, in a system the Telewest likens to the booking of a tennis court.

Paying subscribers will also be able to create their own teams, or clans, and post comments in blueyonder games forums.

It will also be possible to take part in blueyonder games for free -- but this option doesn't include any bookable server time or the ability to post in the forums.

"Blueyonder gaming is defining the future of multiplayer gaming with our unique user-controlled game and server booking system, attracting interest from as far afield as Japan and the US," said Chad Raube, director of Internet services at Telewest Broadband, in a statement.

"With BT withdrawing its multiplayer gaming servers, we're committed to offering our gamers one of the best online gaming experiences available today," Raube added, referring to the news in January that BT was closing its Games Domain Multiplay service, although Games Domain does still offer some multiplayer online games.

Telewest is planning to bring more new features soon, including subscriber-only optimised servers for the most popular games, and subscriber rankings.

Before it rejigged the service, Telewest charged blueyonder games subscribers up to £10 per month.

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