Microsoft Corp. and NTT Communications Corp. said Thursday they have formed a strategic alliance to develop and provide broadband online game services for Microsoft’s Xbox home video game machine.

The service will be launched in Japan in 2002.

NTT will offer high-speed Internet connection through asymmetrical digital subscriber line technology and help Microsoft develop game software for the broadband environment, the companies said.

Online game capability is key to revitalizing the home game market by generating opportunities for further growth, Robert J. Bach, Microsoft’s senior vice president and chief officer in charge of Xbox, told a news conference in Tokyo.

Statistics show the Japanese home video game market continued to shrink in 1998 and 1999. Many analysts predicted results for 2000 will also show a decrease in sales.

Microsoft now plans to release the next-generation game console Xbox, the firm’s first full-fledged hardware product, later this year.

Games on Net site

Game software maker Konami Co. and Internet service provider Internet Initiative Japan Inc. said Thursday that they will jointly open a new Web site for online games Sunday.

The two companies will provide five games on the site that will be played on personal computers and video game consoles like PlayStation2, they said.

The new service may be adapted to broadband Internet services in the future, they said.

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