Friday, March 09, 2007

Sony Phone Home

Sony's answer to X-box Live?
Described as "the first of its kind," Home is an avatar-based virtual neighborhood built on the shoulders of every PS3 owner who participates. Offered as a free download from the PlayStation Store, the new networked feature installs a unique icon to your XMB and then launches just like a game does. Once connected, users are able to join online games, go shopping, talk with other people, and mess around with various media types for as long as they see fit. And to be honest, it's actually pretty cool.


Once an avatar has been chosen, it can then move about the world freely and its first stop will likely be "The Central Lounge." Here, patrons will be able to see other people moving about and conversing with one another, and Sony has truly thought of everything when it comes to communicating (Quick Write options, USB keyboard support, and Bluetooth voice chat seem to integrate seamlessly). Clients can also use emotes to convey moods or just be ridiculous with motions like disco dancing, shoulder shrugs, pointing, waving, and plenty more.


The Hall of Fame. Sony's answer to the Xbox 360's achievement system, the HOF gives users the ability to view trophies they've earned from playing games in a real 3D way (some trophies even have audio or video aspects to them). What's more, is that patrons can even modify trophy cabinets and pick which trophies they want to show to friends.
Now, I admit that I have come down pretty hard on Sony in the last few days. But Home sounds like a giant leap in the right direction. Where X-box Live is by far the most successful online service, it literally is just menus upon menus. If Sony can successfully pull off the Second Life-like world it proposes in Home, then online gaming may finally be moving into the realm of "next-gen." Color me excited.

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