PlayStation Home (“Home” for short) was Sony’s social hub for the PlayStation Network. Home was 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. During development, PlayStation Home was set to 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."
After GDC 2007, information was also been released stating that PlayStation Home would feature game spaces for the titles Warhawk, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Resistance 2 , & Red Bull's Air Race island. Here are the spaces more in detail:
Red Bull's Air Race
Red Bull's Air Race space went live the week of January 5 - 9, 2009. Red Bull's Air Race was on an island where you could explore a tropical island and take part in different Red Bull events. One of the first events allowed players to be inside the cockpit of a Red Bull Air Race plane & compete against other flyers on the Red Bull Air Race course.
EA's Sports Complex
SCE head honcho Kaz Hirai announced EA's support for PS Home. EA Sports Complex was part of Electronic Arts' initial plans to have exclusive new EA Sports multiplayer games & allow others to hang with fellow sports fans. EA planned to launch its first Home presence on April 9, 2009.
Sony threw what they called an in-world celebrity poker tournament starting April 9, 2009 at 8PM EST, although no actual celebrities were featured.
Resident Evil 5 Space
The Resident Evil 5 space was released March 13, 2009.This space had 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 had a new souvenir shop and a minigame, along with other goodies.
These spaces featured 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 were 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 would serve as the player’s 3D representation of Trophies earned. Sony had 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.
This feature was never implemented.
On occasion, PlayStation Home hosted promotional quests for participating players. During E3, for instance, PS Home created a floor space for users to reenact the experience of going to the actual event. The event center was filled with specific PlayStation franchises and many third party games all having their own separate game kiosks. Users could walk up to many kiosks and interact with them. Interactions included taking pictures with memorable characters, viewing screenshots, and learning more about the game. Additionally, a quiz was available to users who would finish the adventure elements of the quest. Upon correct completion of the quiz, unlocks like pieces of clothing could be used in Home.
In March of 2014, a similar quest style adventure called the "Quest for Greatness" was built in Home. Users were tasked with finding cards to increase their "Greatness Level". In the second day of the quest, users were approached by PlayStation mascot Toro to help him get his cards back.
Upon completion of both quests, users were given vouchers for PS1 classics Warhawk, Twisted Metal, Resident Evil: Director's Cut, and Destruction Derby. Additionally, in-game bonus items for F2P shooters Warframe and Blacklight: Retribution were given away.
In September 2014, Sony announced that PlayStation Home would be shutting down on March 31st, 2015.