The commercial viability of online gaming came a step closer to reality yesterday when OziSoft announced a deal with Telstra to deliver "plug and play" access on Sega DreamCast consoles to the Internet via Big Pond.
The arrangement was confirmed as the first stocks of the games console designed for stand-alone or Internet use were being shipped to major retailers.
While announcing the deal, which will see the buyers of an estimated 50,000 units in the first shipment joining up to Big Pond, OziSoft was hosing down a potential business and public relations disaster in that it was unable to provide the browser software required to enable Internet access.
With the major sales feature that DreamCast is "one of the first multimedia devices in the world with access to the Internet and e-mail through television sets", the announcement of the Telstra deal should have been an icing-on-the-cake formality.
According to the OziSoft announcement, the DreamCast machine includes "Dreamkey" -- 150-hour Internet access from Big Pond Home for use over three months. But for would-be online DreamCast owners, that won't happen until February at the earliest, when the browser software is expected to be available.