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Year in review: Game on

While the rest of the high-tech world remained mired in an economic swamp in 2002, the game industry ran like the wind and headed for higher ground.


Game on

Video games get serious with new competition.

While the rest of the tech world remained mired in an economic swamp, the game industry ran wild in 2002.

Microsoft's new Xbox console upped the competitive stakes, while console and PC game makers rushed to push their titles into the world of online gaming in anticipation of another Internet gold rush.

The Xbox debuted in late 2001, and although it clearly has no chance of catching up with Sony's world-beating PlayStation 2, it has made the game business more interesting. Microsoft has been the boldest in pushing game consoles toward the online arena, spending millions to build the Xbox Live network. The software giant was also the most visible on the copyright front, cracking down on "mod chips" and other gaming-related hacking tools.

Booming business prospects, meanwhile, took games in new directions, with games for cell phones proliferating and ideas afloat to use machines for home networking and even supercomputing.

On the PC side of the game business, all eyes were on the Internet, with numerous companies hoping to mimic or better the success of Sony's "EverQuest" and other subscription-based games.

Even companies for which games were a peripheral business got into the act. Yahoo and other Internet biggies counted on premium game services to boost revenue this year, and demanding gamers shook up the graphics chip business and made specialty PC makers the envy of an otherwise grim industry.

--David Becker

Gamers helping specialty PCs thrive
Flashy cases and state-of-the-art components are the rule for computer makers who cater to demanding gamers, a small but treasured class of PC buyer who has to have the latest and best.

March 25, 2002

Yahoo launches pay-for-play service
The Web giant looks to games as it tries to boost subscription revenue. But online games have been a tough business proposition.

April 4, 2002

When games stop being fun
Mental-health professionals say the fantasy worlds offered by computer and video games can become the stuff of very real addictions that destroy marriages and careers.

April 12, 2002

Gaming industry: Playtime is over
Price cuts, online strategies and the cold, hard facts of Microsoft's business life emerge at the E3 gaming trade show.

May 24, 2002

What's the Xbox-PC connection?
Microsoft mulls letting people use the video game console and a TV to access entertainment files stored on their PC.

May 29, 2002

Online gaming's cheating heart
Bad behavior could be a significant threat to the prosperity of the emerging online gaming industry.

June 7, 2002

Chip trio allows glimpse into "Cell"
Hints mount about Sony's plans for the next generation of the PlayStation as work proceeds on a radically different new processor.

August 6, 2002

Fighting for the right to LAN party
High-end PCs and high-octane beverages keep PC gamers going all night. Jolt Cola, anyone?

August 16, 2002

Game industry eyes online experiment
Sony takes a more cautious approach to online gaming, expecting game publishers to do most of the hard work to push the PlayStation 2 onto the Internet.

August 23, 2002

Microsoft pushes Xbox online
The software kingpin gambles on the future of the game business with an elaborate online service for its console.

November 14, 2002


• Online game makers seek key to profits
• Who let the NeoPets out?
• Group backs ISP in online gaming dispute
• Game creators tackle ethical issues
• Microsoft lowers Xbox sales forecast
• The name of the game is price cuts
• Resetting online gaming's future?
• Games line up for gridiron rumble
• The big online gaming gamble
• Microsoft makes Rare buyout official
• Turning games into serious money
• Gamers cash in at jackpot sites
• Xbox crackdown irks "mod chip" fans
• Sony: For games' sake, fix your phones