PlayStation Home, the long awaited online social networking service for PlayStation 3 users, will launch today, December 11th, in the United States and Europe.
The service has been a long time coming and was first announced at the Game Developers Conference 2007 by Phil Harrison and was supposed to launch that year but suffered several delays and setbacks. But now the service is officially ready to go.
Home will be available as a free download to all PlayStation 3 owners once they connect to the PlayStation Network. If you connect or are already connected the service will automatically download and install. Once that is done, you will see a new PlayStation Home logo in your CrossMedia Bar (XMB) menu.
The service lets users interact and chat with each other through a 3D space via avatars that they create to represent themselves. The looks is similar to The Sims and the avatars work much like the Wii’s Mii system but closer to the Xbox 360 avatars in that they look more realistic and like actual people.
When you are inside Home, you can walk around the various environments as your avatar and chat with others via both text and voice. There is a variety of activities you can do with others as well, including playing mini-games, watching videos (on actual TV screens), listening to music (on actual stereos), visiting clubs and more. Clubs are unique areas created by users with similar interests, where they can come and mingle about whatever subject. So expect there to be clubs for every anime under the sun, for example.
Home is highly customizable, everything from your avatars themselves to your own personal room, or apartment, that you can purchased directly from the PlayStation Store, to your clothes and furnishings for your place. As far clubhouses go, they will be available for anyone who wants to create a club, although you will have to pay a price. Sony did not say how much. They simply stated that “to be a Clubhouse owner, user will need to buy the entitlement to run the club.” So it sounds like it will be a small fee to simply set the club up.
You will also find “regional game-related content” in Home. These are areas that are set-up to advertise certain games. You will find areas, or “spaces” devoted to hit PlayStation 3 titles including Far Cry 2, Motorstorm 2: Pacific Rift, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, SOCOM, Resistance and Guitar Hero among many others that will eventually become available. Initially the Far Cry 2 space will only be available for European users but will be available in North American territories “soon” and it shouldn’t be too long before a whole bunch of them become available. Sony stated that they are actively
Naturally, any company can use Home as a marketing tool by creating their own advertising space within Sony’s Home. Sony already has plans with Sony Pictures and Paramount Pictures which involve “dedicated spaces, sponsorship of in-world events, virtual items and exclusive media viewings in the PlayStation Home Theatre.”
The first movie-tie-in event will involve the upcoming film The Watchmen, which will have it’s own space with a selection of virtual Watchmen merchandise. You’ll even have the chance to virtually meet members of the film’s cast and crew in a Watchmen-themed environment in 2009.
The Watchmen promotion follows the previously announced sponsorships with fashion label Diesel and energy drink Red Bull. The latter will offer the opportunity to take part in a virtual version of the Red Bull Air Race, a stunt-flying championship around Red Bull Island. Ligne Roset will provide contemporary furniture, and users will be able to customize items before they buy them.