Xbox owners won't be the only ones who will be able to indulge in a little online gaming: soon PS2 players will have their own rival internet community.

PS2 maker Sony has launched an online adapter for the device in North America, retailing at $39.99 (around £26), which enables the console to connect to the internet via a dialup or broadband connection — unlike Xbox, which requires broadband.

A similar device is expected to hit UK shelves later this year, with 13 new multiplayer games also in the pipeline.

"Gamers want a community. They want to play other people around the world and rate themselves as the best," said a spokesman at Sony Europe. "Online gaming opens up a new world of competition."

Online gaming has taken the industry by storm. Microsoft's Xbox community will go live on 15 November, costing gamers $49.95 (about £33) a year to play over the Xbox network which is built and run by Microsoft.

Nintendo is expected to launch an online adapter for its GameCube console later this year, but further plans are being kept under wraps.