The PS3’s Online World, Home
After nearly two years, Sony will finally launch a beta version of it’s virtual world, Home across North America, Japan and Europe tomorrow. The online universe will be released in eight languages, allowing users to create 3D avatars and personalized “homes” where they can customize content, socialize, or play games. The application will be available as a free download from the PlayStation Store, but certain aspects of the in-world services might cost a small fee.
The ultimate point behind creating the first virtual world for a console wasn’t to compete with existing services like Second Life, or even to attract new users, according to SCEJ Vice President Junji Shoda. Like Microsoft’s New Xbox Experience, Home is part of the gradual move toward a perpetually connected gaming environment for consoles.
With game consoles providing a relatively easy way for users to get online and engage in these environments, we’ll be interested to see how developers and media providers utilize these spaces to push new content and interact directly with the audience that will be buying their games. For those very reasons these virtual worlds are a boon to companies, but also one colossal competitor for a potential user’s time. As this experience grows, it certainly raises the bar for what people will expect from their games.