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Connectix hooks PlayStation to Macs

The company's new program effectively turns a Macintosh computer into a gaming machine for Sony PlayStation CD-ROM titles.

SAN FRANCISCO--Connectix has released the Virtual Game Station, an application that allows Macintosh users to play Sony PlayStation games on their computers.

Connectix, which also markets an Intel processor emulator that allows Windows software to run on Macintosh computers, announced the new application at the Macworld Expo here. The new program effectively turns a Macintosh computer into a gaming machine for PlayStation CD-ROM titles.

Although other applications allow PC users to play arcade games on their computers, this is the first time the popular PlayStation platform has been ported to the Apple computing platform, or any computing platform, according to Roy McDonald, CEO of Connectix. A PlayStation normally works only with a TV.

"To my knowledge, this is the first one that's commercially available," he said.

The release of Virtual Game Station is timed to coincide with Apple's renewed push into the gaming world, McDonald said. The availability of software that allows Sony's ultra-popular games to be played on the Mac is quite a coup for Apple in its quest for gaming credibility.

While the Internet is the driving force behind computer purchases these days, gaming is still one of the top five considerations people make when buying a system, said Phil Schiller, executive vice president of worldwide marketing for Apple. "What we've found is that if you don't have games, that's a big reason people won't buy your machine. [Connextix's announcement] is one more thing that said it isn't risky to buy a Mac," he noted.

The platform provides some technical advantages as well. Because Macs based on the G3 processor feature somewhat uniform hardware, it is easier to troubleshoot software for the platform than for Intel-based systems that feature a wide range of graphics cards, McDonald said.

"It's easier technically to do on the Macintosh," he said. "The challenge in the Windows platform is the high range of hardware. It's less difficult to get rid of large compatibility issues on the Mac."

The Connectix software has "a lot of real world value," said Schiller. Mac customers are getting access to more game titles, and for homes that already have a game console, another place to play PlayStation titles.

"A lot of people have asked when games for consoles would be able to run on computers. Before, they were always talking about using a piece of hardware [to do that]. No one thought it would be a $49 piece of software," he told CNET in an interview.

Eventually, Virtual Game Station will be available for Windows PCs as well, he said. "We get better quality with Windows by going through the Mac," McDonald said. Virtual Game Station 1.0 only works on Macintosh computers and Powerbook notebooks which run on the G3 processor, including the original iMac.

Not all PlayStation games will work using the Virtual Game Station, and some games will skip an occasional frame. Connectix lists compatible PlayStation games on its Web site.

Virtual Game Station 1.0 is only for sale at the Macworld Expo, priced at $49. Widespread retail distribution will not be available until later this year.

Connectix does not have a licensing agreement with Sony, McDonald said, but the company does not believe that its product includes any Sony intellectual property. Sony declined to comment on the Virtual Game Station.