Multi-player TV gaming arrives

NTL signs deal: ready by end of year

NTL has announced that it is to be the first company to offer multi-player gaming through the television.

The company has signed a deal whereby games developer nGame will supply it with two software titles that will allow subscribers to its digital cable services to take part in multi-player gaming. The games are Castle Conquerors, an action game, and Berlin Assassins, a spy thriller set in 1960s Germany.

The games will form part of the company's interactive digital television services, which it expects to launch before the end of the year. Unlike BskyB's Open interactive television services, NTL cable subscribers will have to pay to upgrade to the digital service. However a spokesman for NTL said it will not be "wildly different to the current fee". The multi-player games will launch slightly after the main services, "at the back end of the first quarter next year," said a spokesman.

The games will be available on NTL's Games Channel, which will also include a selection of classic family games, such as chess, from software publisher Infogrames Entertainment. Other features of the games channel will include the ability to chat to other players, enter competitions and use bulletin boards.

Once NTL has completed its acquisition of Cable & Wireless, it will have a total subscriber base of 2.8 million, and will available to over eight million homes across the country. Telewest, which is to launch its digital television service later this week, said that although it had no launch date for multi-player gaming services, "it is part of our plans, and by the end of next year will be one of countless services we will be offering," according to a spokesman.