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Sega to sell online game tools

Sega announced Tuesday that it will sell development tools to help game makers add online features to games for Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's GameCube consoles. The Sega Network Application will include tools for authenticating users, recording and reporting statistics for player rankings, and connecting to billing systems. Games publisher Sega and companies such as GameSpy hope to build a growing market for such "middleware," as game publishers look for cheap and easy ways to add online functions to their titles.

Sega pioneered online gaming via its now-defunct Dreamcast console. The company has been one of the most vigorous supporters of new online gaming services, introducing online titles for the Nintendo and Sony consoles as well as for Microsoft's Xbox.