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Electronic Arts poised for Net play

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Electronic Arts poised for Net play

Electronic Arts is moving forward with plans to expand its investment in online gaming.

EA is said to be quietly working on several subscription-based games similar to its first Internet-only title, Ultima Online, a role-playing game. Introduced in 1997, Ultima Online has 125,000 subscribers each paying $10 a month and was recently introduced in Europe.

Analysts suspect that Electronic Arts has talked about licensing its games to service providers such as America Online or Excite@Home.

CFO Stan McKee has been telling investors that Electronic Arts wants to get 20 percent of its sales from online sources within three years. The Redwood City, California company recorded $1.2 billion in sales for fiscal 1998.

EA’s bet on Internet-based gaming could help it weather transitions to new game-console technology. The top two game console makers, Sony and Nintendo, both plan to introduce new consoles next year, which could cause industry sales to stall as consumers wait for the new consoles to buy new game software.

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