Well, it’s about damn time.
After delays upon delays, waning user interest, and endless rumors, Sony is finally launching PlayStation Home tomorrow, December 11th. It’s been over a year and a half since the app was announced way back at GDC 2007, but at long last, you’ll be able to mill around a Second Life-like virtual world with other PS3 owners. So Sony has kept its promise that Home would be released in 2008 -- I hope there aren’t too many of you who have lost money by betting otherwise, though I wouldn’t have faulted you for doing so.
Sony’s effectively pulling a Google here -- they’re saying that Home will launch in an “open beta,” so I’m assuming it’s going to be a very malleable product that will see constant updates and additions. Get ready to create your own Avatar-like digital doppelgänger so you can head into Home and chat it up (text or voice) with friends or (gasp!) complete strangers! Home will launch globally, although there’s some fine print in the press release -- check it out after the jump -- saying that it won’t be available in all regions.
It’s interesting to note that while Home itself won’t cost you anything -- you’ll be able to “experience basic features and services ... free of charge” -- there will, naturally, be special options available for those who want to fork over cash for virtual perks and privileges. These include creating a “club” to join up with gamers who have similar interests (?!). I’m also assuming that some of the premium content will have something to do with the advertising partners that Sony has brought to Home, such as Red Bull and Diesel.
Sony really seems to be throwing all its weight behind Home. North American gamers will have Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (see header image) and Far Cry 2 areas open to them at launch, with spaces for Warhawk, Resistance, Guitar Hero, and SOCOM to come soon afterward. There’s also mention of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Paramount Pictures using Home to promote their films. I don’t know if it’ll all be worth the wait, but I guess we’ll know soon enough. You can check out some new screenshots from Home in the gallery.
PLAYSTATION®HOME BETA SERVICE WILL BECOME AVAILABLE TO ALL PLAYSTATION®3 USERS ON DECEMBER 11
Highly Anticipated Service Open For All PLAYSTATION 3 Users
Tokyo, Foster City, London, December 10, 2008 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today announced that its highly anticipated PlayStation®Home Beta service for PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3®) will become available for all PS3 users around the world*1 on December 11, 2008. Following the successful completion of the closed beta service, PlayStation Home’s open beta service will continue to evolve with new features and functionality.
PlayStation Home is a ground-breaking 3D social gaming community available on PS3 that allows users to interact, communicate and share gaming experiences. By leveraging the power of PS3, PlayStation Home delivers overwhelming visual graphics and rich gaming social experiences only possible on the PS3 platform. Within PlayStation Home, users can create and customize their own unique avatars and explore virtual community in real time where they can communicate freely through text or voice chat. PlayStation Home users will not only be able to enjoy variety of entertainment content such as mini-games, videos and special events along with their friends, but will also be able to create their own community by using the “Club*2” feature to create clubs with other PlayStation Home users who share the same interests.
PlayStation Home, available as a free download*3 starting December 11, will launch directly from the PlayStation Home icon on the PlayStation®Network column of XMB™ (XrossMediaBar) on PS3. Users will be able to experience basic features and services of PlayStation Home, free of charge*4. PlayStation Home will allow open interaction among users, business partners and SCE, and will evolve with additional features including dedicated game spaces, special events and exclusive themed items, to further enrich the entertainment experience on the PS3 platform.
“PlayStation Home is truly a promising network community service on the PlayStation platform, made possible with the powerful combination of PS3’s overwhelming computational power and PlayStation Network that covers many countries around the globe,” said Kazuo Hirai, President and Group CEO, SCE. “We are committed to providing PS3 users with exciting gaming experiences with PlayStation Home and together with our partners and users, expand the new world of interactive entertainment as we move forward.”
For users in North America, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) will launch game themed high-definition virtual environments including the Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune™ and Far Cry 2 spaces and the soon to be released Warhawk™, Resistance, Guitar Hero® and SOCOM spaces. In these environments, users will discuss specific games, plan strategies and access content and clues that will enhance their gaming experience. Through these virtual environments, publishers will be able to increase and extend consumer interest in their game titles via new mediums of game play. SCEA is partnering with Activision, Disney Eidos, Electronic Arts, Lucas Arts, THQ and UBISOFT, to develop virtual environments among other content for PlayStation Home.
“PlayStation Home is a social gaming service unlike anything else on the market and we are excited to be partnering with gaming and non-gaming partners to develop content that connects and entertains today’s PS3 users like never before,” said Susan Panico, Senior Director of PlayStation Network, SCEA. “PlayStation Home is a tremendous addition to the growing suite of entertainment services available only through PlayStation Network.”
SCEA is announcing partnerships with some of the world’s most respected lifestyle brands during open beta including Lignet Roset, a contemporary furniture designer, and Diesel, an international fashion design company. These partnerships will allow users to purchase customizable furniture for their personal apartments and designer clothes for their avatars, respectively.
A variety of studio partners including Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Paramount Pictures will bring the PlayStation® community original intellectual property through dedicated spaces, sponsorship of in-world events, virtual items and exclusive media viewings in the PlayStation Home Theater. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will use PlayStation Home to promote its latest films, offering exclusive video content, interviews and appearances from film talent. Paramount Digital Entertainment will bring to PlayStation Home virtual goods and video content based on its most relevant and popular franchises.
As the very first consumer brand space, Red Bull has created the Red Bull Island featuring an airplane racing game modeled after the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. The space is designed to facilitate interaction among the PlayStation community, creating opportunities to interact and take part in various Red Bull events and experiences. Expansion and completion of the island will follow in early 2009.
PlayStation Home is exclusive to PS3, free to download and easy to join. It’s the ultimate online community – a place to meet friends, play the latest games together, dance to new music, watch videos in a social setting, and host parties in their personal apartments. With more spaces being created and partners like Diesel, Electronic Arts, and Red Bull coming on board, the PlayStation Home experience is just getting started.
SCE will vigorously promote the expansion of the world of PS3 by introducing new services that will open up new possibilities and enjoyment in interactive entertainment.
*1 PlayStation Home will not be available in some regions.
*2 To be a “Clubhouse” owner, user will need to buy the entitlement to run the club.
*3 When the service is available, PlayStation Home icon will appear after booting/ re-booting the PS3 system. To enjoy PlayStation Home, users will need broadband network connection and PlayStation Network account in addition to the PS3 system.
*4 Some content and services are charged.