PlayStation Home (“Home” for short) is Sony’s social hub for the PlayStation Network. Home has been touted as being the key feature that will put the PlayStation Network into a position higher than that of Microsoft’s online functionality with Xbox Live. PlayStation Home will exhibit several unique features including, but not limited to the following:
- 2D User Interface for Streamlined Navigation (formerly in the form of a Virtual PSP)
- Top to Bottom Character Customization
- Central Lobby or Lounge for Players Unique
- Game Spaces both for PlayStation Home Specific Casual Games and Other Game Titles
- Individualized and Personal Member Spaced in the Form of a Virtual Apartment
- A “ Hall of Fame” also known as the “ Trophy Room”
Former head of Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) Worldwide, Phil Harrison, gave the first introduction to PlayStation Home at Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2007. Harrison gave the following details about each of the featured mentioned above.
2D User Interface
"Your Virtual PSP gives you access to all the navigation, features and options of Home." The virtual handheld device served as the player’s main tool for getting around and accessing all that Home has to offer. It was later replaced with a more ambiguous-looking and easier to navigate "device."
Top to Bottom Character Customization
"Each person can customize their clothes and facial characteristics, with millions of potential combinations."Harrison demonstrated that the virtual PSP interface could be used to edit the player’s outward appearance, from clothes to their avatar’s physical appearance. All players would be granted access to a basic list of items which could be worn by their avatars. However, further items could be earned through game performance and micro-transaction.
Central Meeting Place or Central Lounge for Players
"The Central Lounge is the large social meeting space and is your initial starting point in Home. Communication is key in Home, and there are many simple ways to get to know people. Emotes are animations that get your point across fast. You can access short phrases using Quick Write, or if you have something big to say you can type with a Virtual or USB keyboard, or talk with a Bluetooth headset."
Along with this information, Harrison showed several avatars in the Central Lounge conversing using text messages which appear directly above the avatar speaking. This message system was similar to stacked messaging systems that are now common place on high-end cell phones or instant-messaging programs. Harrison also stated that there would be plenty of space for contextual adverts within PlayStation Home to keep the feature free.
Game Spaces both for PlayStation Home Specific Casual Games and Specific Game Titles
"The Games Space is where you can meet and relax with your friends with free casual games such as bowling, pool and retro arcade games."
Since GDC 2007, information has also been released stating that PlayStation Home will feature game spaces for the titles Warhawk, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Resistance 2 , & Red Bull's Air Race island. Here are the space more in detail.Red Bull's Air Race
Red Bull's Air Race space is going live the week of January 5 - 9, 2009. Red Bull's Air Race is on an island where you can explore this tropical island and take part in different Red Bull events. One of the first events players will be allowed inside the cockpit of a Red Bull Air Race plane & compete against other flyers on the Red Bull Air Race course. This is just the start of updates for Red Bull Island with more to come in the next few months.
EA's Sports Complex
SCE head honcho Kaz Hirai announced EA's support for PS Home. EA Sports Complex is part of Electronic Arts' initial plans to have exclusive new EA Sports multiplayer games & allow others to hang with fellow sports fans. EA plans to launch its first Home presence this April 9, 2009.
Sony is throwing what they call an in-world celebrity poker tournament starting April 9,20009 at 8PM EST(no real celebrities though).
Resident Evil 5 Space
The Resident Evil 5 space was released March 13, 2009.This space has the ability to launch Resident Evil 5.
How to do it: Go into PS Home Resident Evil space, press Start > Game Launching > Set Up New Game > Resident Evil 5.
It will now have a new souvenir shop and a minigame, along with other goodies.
These spaces will feature thematic decors and game specific functionality.
Individualized and Personal Member Spaced in the Form of a Virtual Apartment
"Your Apartment Space is your private apartment where you can invite your friends and family. Your free, initial apartment can be decorated and upgraded to the height of luxury with furniture, accessories, pictures and videos from your own collection."
As Harrison’s statement implies, further and larger spaces will be made available for a small fee.
A “Hall of Fame” also known as the “Trophy Room”
"The Hall of Fame is the space where your game accomplishments are stored as 3D Trophies and video for public and private display."
This area will serve as the player’s 3D representation of Trophies earned. Sony has already added Trophy functionality to the Xross-Media Bar (XMB) in a 2D format with the “Hall of Fame” being a much larger representation. The stored video of accomplishments may be the integration of direct upload features already seen in PlayStation Network (PSN) titles like Pixel Junk Eden.
Sony has recently stated that since digital items and other miscellanea for your HOME avatar had become available for purchase they had made over 1 million dollars through HOME.