Sony is planning to turn its Eye Toy accessory for PlayStation into an easy-to-use videophone that uses a television set.
Eye Toy Chat, due to be announced at the E3 gamesfest in Los Angeles this week, was expected to be in shops by June.
The system would support up to 256 users on text chat, up to 16 for voice applications and one-to-one video chat. It would also support video email using the Eye Toy camera.
The system requires PS2 to be fitted with an Eye Toy camera and Sony Network Adaptor and connected to broadband internet.
Video is a jerky 12.5 frames per second, giving a picture of similar quality to 3G phone video. In contrast, some webcams deliver up to 30 frames per second.
A reliable connection was a must for a mass-market product, as Eye Toy Chat was designed to give people access to webcam-like functions without having to buy a new PC.
The system was not developed specifically for gameplay, but it would be incorporated in PS2 titles.