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PlayStation 'Home' open beta launches

Sony's long-delayed PlayStation Home opens its doors to the public.

Sony PlayStation Home screenshot

If all goes according to plan, PlayStation Home will be opening its doors to the public later Thursday. The PlayStation 3-exclusive allows gamers to interact with one another using avatars in a virtual environment via text or voice chat (think Second Life, but on the PS3). The free service is still in beta, but should be available to PS3 users worldwide by the end of the day.

Nintendo's Wii launched with support for player avatars that can be used in many of its games, and the Xbox 360 added avatar and enhanced community features with its November 2008 New Xbox Experience makeover. But PlayStation Home looks to be the most sophisticated virtual world to date available on a game console, with realistic graphical renderings of people and environments. The Home world features minigames, in-world music options, trophy rooms, and--of course--advertiser-supported destinations and stores.

What do you think: Is Home a game changer for the PS3? Or is it yet another environment to sell you "virtual junk" you don't need? Share your comments below.

(Via: Official PlayStation Blog)

Earlier coverage:
PS3 'Home' a second life away from home
Sony delays launch of PlayStation 'Home' service