a week of anticipation,
PlayStation Home is finally official. Sony released screenshots of what many
have been terming “online identities” or “avatars.” Unlike the cartoony look of
Nintendo’s Miis and the feature-filled interface of Xbox Live, PlayStation Home
adopts the “virtual world” concept that, at first glance, looks similar to Second
Life or The Sims.
is about the connected device,” said Phil Harrison, SCE Worldwide, as he introduced his concept of Game 3.0 in
his keynote speech at GDC. “We want the entire game community to add to this
and build on this. It’s not something that we want to claim as a copyright or a
trademark. It's about community; it's about collaboration; it's about
customization. It's about emergent entertainment powered by the audience—with the
audience at the center of this universe.”
in PlayStation Home can be customized with many different variations of
clothing, body and facial features. Its character creation process is akin to
that found in many MMORPGs. PlayStation Home users can walk around and
socialize through voice or text chat, and play together on casual games or those
downloaded from the PlayStation Network. Games of pool and bowling were
demonstrated on stage from within the PlayStation Home system.
emotes such as dancing are used to convey actions and emotions, also like those
found in online games. Players can communicate by typing to each other, where a
USB keyboard would be very handy, or through speech by using any Bluetooth
headset. Users can also “quick chat” through pre-written dialog and responses,
which may open doors for users speaking different languages to convey
understandable messages to each other.
online persona will have a virtual living space to decorate with various items
and achievement prizes. The virtual apartment can be decorated just like the
real world, with users able to select different carpets, furniture and other
room may also be decorated from media stored on the PlayStation 3, such as
music, images and videos. Phil Harrison demonstrated this by taking a picture
with his camera with the intention of uploading it to his virtual room.
PlayStation Home virtual world will also serve as a gateway into downloadable
media. For example, a user may walk to the movie theater to gain access to
videos, and perhaps pay-per-download high-definition movies.
what is clearly an answer to Microsoft’s successful game achievement system,
Sony is creating something in the same spirit. “The final part of the home
experience that we would like to share with you is something called the Hall of
Fame,” revealed Harrison.
can explore a virtual trophy room are where it displays goals that the player
has and has not accomplished. “It's not just the games that you own. It's the
entire network of games that's available for PlayStation 3. I think this gives
you a sense of where this may go in the future as hundreds and hundreds of
titles are added,” said Harrison. “You can check out the trophies, and that
gives users an incentive to go and buy your game as well. It's a unique real-time
3D community for the PlayStation Network."
Sony has stressed on numerous occasions, it plans for the online service to be
free of charge. Like Xbox Live’s gamer pictures and themes, however, users will
have to pay a small fee to gain access to small novelty items, such as unique
clothing, to personalize his or her online identity. The PlayStation Home
service will also be subsidized by dynamic advertising that will be viewed in
the virtual world.
final PlayStation Home product isn’t
set to launch until fall, though a “large scale” beta is said to begin in
April. See Sony's promotional
video of PlayStation Home for more.