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PlayStation Home getting massive update

Sony is pulling out all of the stops to try and lure gamers back into its online avatar-based community with a new design launching tomorrow.

The all-new Action District is part of a big update coming to PlayStation home. SCEA

Three years after PlayStation Home's debut, gamers largely regard it as an unpopular social-gaming community for the PlayStation 3. A big redesign coming tomorrow could make the online environment a much more compelling space for gamers to congregate.

The new PlayStation Home represents a new strategic direction for the online space, which is loosely similar to Second Life.

"Home's community is made up of some of the most passionate gamers on PS3, and we've listened to their feedback since Home launched in 2008, finally transforming Home itself into a game," Jack Buser, director of PlayStation Home, said in a statement. "This redesign marks a new beginning for PlayStation Home, and players can expect much more to come."

Navigation will now occur from the Hub, similar to the Central Plaza of the old PlayStation Home. In this new area, players can check out an activity board with quests, community events, and user-generated content.

Sony has also split up Home into several genre-based districts, accessible from the Hub, which have a myriad of content and 230 playable games. Texas Hold 'Em, RC Car racing, sports trivia, and a new first-person shooters are just a few of the new games coming tomorrow. Those looking to be truly unique can spend plenty of time glossing over the 10,000 virtual items to wear or place in a virtual home.

Six new areas in Home will be available starting tomorrow to explore, including an Action District, Sportswalk, Adventure District, Pier Park, PlayStation Home Theater, and a redesigned PlayStation Home Mall. You can read more details about the new PlayStation Home at the official PlayStation blog.

Bootleggers 29 is a new first person shooter coming to Home based in the Prohibition era. SCEA

PlayStation Home has had a lackluster history. Aside from a late launch, the service grew significantly but never really developed into a true selling point for the console.

The avatar experience was fundamentally solid but never sound, and built largely in response to Nintendo Wii's player avatars (used in games) and Xbox 360's enhanced avatar community experience. Since its debut, Home has had 24 million visitors and people spend an average of 70 minutes playing the social game hub, according to a Sony statement.