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  PS3 Goes ‘Home’ [Updated]  
Posted 2007-03-07 by Tony Walsh
PS3 Goes ‘Home’ [Updated]
Sony gets worldy.
Thanks to readers Ryan and Victor for sending in the news that Sony has announced Home, a presumably-upcoming 3D community space for its Playstation 3 console. The free service will be accessed through the PS3's "cross media bar," allowing gamers to mingle inside a virtual world resembling Second Life and There. Users may customize the body shape and attire of their avatars using built-in and downloadable options. In-world communication tools include animated emotes, menu-driven phrases, an on-screen keyboard, and real-time voice chat with a Bluetooth-compatible headset.

According to a Sony video promoting Home, the service will "grow into a virtual network of [public and private] spaces" over time. Users will be able to carve out their own customizable private spaces for invite-only chats, or to share media stored on the PS3 via in-world screens and stereos. Users will also be able to group up and enter games together (making Home a bit of a "lobby" used to meet other players).

Future plans for the service include sponsored spaces, downloadable content (driven by microtransactions, I bet), and an answer to Xbox Live's "Achievements" system whereby users will accumulate 3D trophies for public and private display.

This news is quite surprising (to me, anyway), and if there was ever any reason for me to look into buying a PS3, Home would be it. The service seems substantially more fleshed out and useful than Nintendo's "Mii" avatar system, but at the same time, completely derivative of today's most prominent social worlds. In some ways, home is a 3D Xbox Live--I'm just not sure Xbox Live would be improved by 3D. It remains to be seen if Home is a comfortable, functional, fun space for gamers, or an over-complicated amalgamation of existing services on competing platforms.

Update: I've gathered a few other reactions from around the web (possibly more to come).
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Comment posted by csven
March 7, 2007 @ 6:09 pm
I'd recommend adding Alice's recap of the announcement: Phil Harrison's Keynote. I'm (obviously) less impressed than most people. It's not that I don't think it's an impressive move, but the largely closed-wall nature of this just doesn't work for me.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
March 7, 2007 @ 6:35 pm
I'm sort of in wait-and-see mode here, personally. I don't know if Home is all that closed, based on Alice's transcript. The spaces are built in Maya, and there is a SDK available. Looks like there will be a high barrier to entry, though (no mom and pop shops).
Comment posted by csven
March 7, 2007 @ 7:36 pm
As I said "largely" closed. I did read Alice's piece and watched the video over on 3pointD, so I'm aware as best I currently can be of what I consider to be rather limited user opportunities. With regard to Maya, I don't think they're saying *users* will be able to create content in Maya for upload. Here's what Alice claims he said:
Let’s look at a multibrand publisher. We build these spaces using Maya, and we’ll give you the SDKs to develop to this.
These are easy ways to build socialization around your game brands.
So much for that. Those SDK's are most likely going to dev teams (the people in the audience); not users. And I can pretty much figure out what's going to be available through the developers: users will be given simple tools as shown in their demo. They'll be able to add their own graffiti or make simple game mods using the existing game content... and not much more for most games. I see that stuff in the same light in which I saw Beck's "user generated" cd art (Link). For anything more compelling, this line is worth repeating:
This is all extendable through free and premium items added by you, game developers, and ourselves.
That's exactly the same as what's going on now afaik. Remember MS Marketplace? Well, unless it's changed, that thing works the same way. It's devs that sell additional content; not users. Sometimes devs accept content, but I've come across only one and they were still in development and desperate for cheap content. There may be more, but after initial research I was disappointed and stopping looking. I now assume that for most of the rest, the "marketplace" is a members only community where they can extend the life of their product. It's not a way for their users to add content and participate.

That's not "user generated" content in the context we often speak of it.

Comment posted by Tony Walsh
March 7, 2007 @ 7:42 pm
> That's not "user generated" content in the context we often speak of it.

Agreed! I was pretty disappointed with the barriers to entering the Marketplace myself.
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