SOE And Vivox Go Way Beyond In-Game Voice Chat

Anyone who's tried World of Warcraft's crappy built-in voice knows that voice chat isn't something you can implement in a half-arsed fashion. Sony Online Entertainment knows this, and they've teamed with communications company Vivox to integrate a suite of voice tools into SOE games that's worth at least three or four whole asses. Along with standard voice chat, the Vivox package includes amazing new features, such as in-game voicemail, built-in, high quality voice masking, multiple voice channels for guild chat, raid chat, etc., all running on Vivox servers so your bandwidth doesn't take a hit. You'll even be able to dial in using your cell phone and a special pin number to get in touch with your guildies while away from the PC! The best part? all of this is completely free - not only for people playing SOE games like EQ2 or the upcoming The Agency, but for anyone who uses the Station launcher, regardless of whether they subscribe to a Sony game or not. Hit the jump for the full details on one of the coolest things SOE has done in years.

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® -

San Francisco, Calif. — February 20, 2008 — 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.


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