PS3 'Home', a second life away from home

Sony announced its new PlayStation 3 'Home' service at GDC.

Sony finally unveiled its big PlayStation 3 surprise at GDC 2007. After its short but intense pre-GDC rumor war with Kotaku , Sony announced Home, the new online service for the PS3.

Underneath the marketing hype that Gamespot and News.com both already covered, Home is essentially a cross between Second Life and Nintendo's Mii avatars. PS3 users will get their own customizable avatars and virtual homes with which they can go online, chat with and host friends, find players for online gaming, buy and show off clothing and decorations, accumulate game trophies, and other social gaming activities. The service itself will be free, but clothing, furniture, and other Home toys will be sold through microtransactions.

Home looks like it could be what PS3 owners have been waiting for: A coherent online service that lets users communicate with each other. On paper, it sounds pretty sweet. It takes the personalizing of Nintendo's Miis and the connectivity and sense of accomplishment of Microsoft's Xbox Live gamer tags and achievements and ambitiously mixes them with aspects of Second Life. Home seems like a deep, complex system that could be very fun.

Unfortunately, the more complex a system is, the more that can go wrong with it. Home will tie together virtual avatars, chatting, achievements, and game matchmaking all together into a huge 3D environment. It's a lot for one program to handle, especially if Home will interact with PS3 games in any way. It's a great idea, but until I see it in action myself, I'm going to take Home with a grain of salt.

For complete GDC coverage, check out CNET News.com and GameSpot.

 

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