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Home will be here for Christmas

It looks like Sony’s Playstation should be landing on the Playstation Store, as a free download, on the 17th!

 

The annual battle of the consoles that takes place every Christmas will heat up this week when Sony launches its own version of Second Life for the PlayStation 3. The new service, called PlayStation Home, will allow players to create an online “virtual life” and interact with other players in a make-believe world.

Sony hopes to cash in on the massive success of Second Life, which claims to have 15m registered players around the world — albeit that the highest number active at any one time is about 76,000. It is, however, available only on a computer rather than a games console. To try Home, which is slated for release in the next 10 days, players must download a piece of free software from Sony’s PlayStation store onto their own PS3.

From here they must create their own character, known as an avatar; they are then free to explore Sony’s virtual lands complete with shops, apartments and cinemas. They can also meet and interact with other avatars from around the world, exchange ideas and play mini-games such as chess or 10-pin bowling. Avatars can dance together or blow each other kisses but, in case you’re wondering, interaction will fall short of full-on sex, a popular option for many Second Life fans.

Sony has high hopes of Home becoming a digital clubhouse where those with time on their hands can let their avatars hang out together online. Most of the service’s initial features will be free, and you are given a harbourside apartment that you can furnish as you choose. If you want to embellish your virtual home with fancy furniture or bling up your avatar with posh clothing, this will inevitably cost real money. For example, a pair of jeans will cost about 85p and a flash apartment will cost about £4. This will be paid for via PlayStation’s online store.

Home has been in the pipeline for some time, but the announcement of the launch so close to Christmas is no coincidence. This is traditionally the most popular time for gamers to invest in new consoles. Two years ago, when Nintendo launched its Wii, the device sold out across many shops in Britain, and — in what was something of a PR coup — the company was forced to airlift new stock in from mainland Europe. It pioneered the idea of creating permanent player avatars on a console.

 

Whether Sony’s marketing move will prove as successful remains to be seen, but initial reports are good. While Home is not as ambitious an undertaking as Second Life, Sony appears to have successfully created a slick environment for gamers to enjoy exploring. The initial choice of clothing for your avatar is limited, but many of the virtual stores have not opened for business yet and this, along with other aspects, will undoubtedly evolve rapidly.

Perhaps the most important feature is that if avatars meet up online, the players can launch a PS3 game directly from within Home that they can participate in, if they all have a copy. This may help PlayStation to catch up with the hugely popular Xbox Live online service.

Sony is not alone in attempting to entice buyers by adding new features to its console: Microsoft has completely revamped the software for its Xbox 360 consoles in time for Christmas shoppers. The company also insists it has finally replaced the errant chip that caused so many of its consoles to malfunction and has begun building some storage memory into even the cheapest of Xbox machines.

The crucial point for many buyers in these cash-strapped times will, of course, be price. And here the Xbox 360 has the advantage. Microsoft has recently slashed the cost of its Xbox range so that gamers can buy the most basic console for £130. The PS3 will set you back at least £350.

 

-TimesOnline.com

It is about time for Home to hit out consoles!

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  • I wonder if it will be too little too late in terms of all the people who were looking forward to Home. Either way, we can say one thing for sure: about time!

  • Snakeman555

    It will most defiantly be too little too late. Firstly we have been waiting way way too long, Sony shouldn't have even announced it until E3-08. And it is still in beta, its even not all the way done. So people will inevedibly be quite disappointed when it comes out, but at least its free, right?

  • Everyone is disappointed but who cares? It's unprecedented on a console so I'm willing to be patient and watch it grow. You don't need to play games and it's not going to replace your XMB so it's not required.

    I can just see the crapstorm of complaints coming when it does launch.

  • Everyone is disappointed but who cares? It's unprecedented on a console so I'm willing to be patient and watch it grow. You don't need to play games and it's not going to replace your XMB so it's not required.

    I can just see the crapstorm of complaints coming when it does launch tomorrow.

  • Everyone is disappointed but who cares? It's unprecedented on a console so I'm willing to be patient and watch it grow. You don't need to play games and it's not going to replace your XMB so it's not required.

    I can just see the crapstorm of complaints coming when it does launch tomorrow. Yes that's right. The Official PlayStation Blog says the Open Beta will go LIVE tomorrow. The funny thing is all these people not so interested in HOME will still go and download it.

  • Snakeman555, I guess it's one of those instances where grass is greener. Take a company like Apple. They tend to be secretive and not announce things in advance. At that rate, you get a bunch of pissed off people wanting the company to keep them in the know. Then you have companies like Sony, who give people a sense of what's to come and people get pissed because it is taking too long. It's going to be a lose:lose either way.

    Bottom line, as you so eloquently put: you can't argue with free.

  • I am personally looking forward to hearing the horror stories that will come from folks using home as a place to hook up (no, not to play MotorStorm…). Does anyone know a cheap way to capture video/audio from an HDMI cable? : – )

  • I wonder why they didn't incorporate that share movie feature they were talking about… *hmm*

    Cause I know Photo Party on the other console already proved to be quite the riot.

  • LOL. I know it is really dumb to say "LOL", but that is what I did.

    So, how do we work this into a headline? "Concerns Over Virtual Sex Limit Video Sharing on Video Game Console." I am sure that FOX News would love to run with that one.

  • Snakeman555

    michaelb, Apple's methods of holding back on the announcements of products and services are far superior to Sony telling us about Home a good 2 years before it goes public. With Apple you get all of the positive speculation of what's to come, but with Sony you have a overhyped service that is sure to underwhelm countless people, because it isn't ready to go public. A company should not announce a product that far before they release it. We can accurately assume that Sony is pushing this out far to early in the development of Home. Now don't get me wrong here because I am super excited for home, but I am not going to sell it for more that it's worth.

  • Agreed…but I don't think Sony really hyped up Home. They told us what it was. They were very adamant that it wasn't a game, but a service for the community to enjoy.

    Even more so, they really didn't mention much about game spaces and still haven't. We know about what they've given us and they're not promising us anything other than a free application.

    I just think gamers and the media blow things out proportion. It's just like Microsoft announcing Halo Wars and the other Halo game. That's not due for another year right?

    If you don't make things known then you have to advertise like a nut. (see Sony Christmas 2009 marketing)

  • Good luck doing that. There's very expensive equipment that can do it, but capturing video from a digital source is extremely hard. I don't really know any devices that even capture video from RBG wires out in stores. I looked into before when I was recording wrestling matches on Xbox Live.

    BTW..in the Beta forums, people are pushing to have the Youtube functionality pushed into HOME. There's a VERY good chance it will end up being used.