We put some questions to Sony about Home, one of the main revelations of Phil Harrison’s keynote speech at GDC. Here’s the substantial set of answers we got back…
First up, here’s some key points about Home that they provided us with:
• Is the first of its kind on a computer entertainment console
• A unique blend of community, user-generated content, collaboration and commerce that is the future of computer entertainment.
• Will broaden the online community market in the same way that the PlayStation brand has broadened the gaming market
• Will take the mystery and the geekiness out of online interaction, and make it as easy as text messaging or picking up the phone
• Is inclusive and welcoming, not exclusive and daunting like current offerings
• Is the gateway and start point for a whole raft of future PlayStation Network services
Can you define Home for us?
“Home is a real-time online 3D, networked community available on PS3 and the Network. It allows PS3 users to interact, communicate, join online games, shop, share private content and even build and show off their own personal spaces to others in real time. Home will be available as a free download from the PlayStation Store and will launch directly from the XMB (XrossMediaBar) on PS3.”
Why are you creating this service?
“The power of PS3 and the Network afford us the opportunity to create a unique user service that will define the future of community on computer entertainment platforms. We feel it is important to foster not only user-interaction, but increased, ongoing contact between users, first and third party publishers and other partners.”
What’s the cost?
“Home is free to download and free to use. The user will be able to purchase items from the Store (Home supports the Playstation wallet) to further customise their Home Space, as well as make purchases from other third party partners.”
Is it global?
“Yes, when it launches Home will be a global network service.”
And when is it launching?
“We will be executing a closed beta this spring. The official launch date will be later this year.”
What languages will it support?
“It will support multiple languages including Japanese, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Because it is a network service, it is easy to extend the language support in the future after the initial beta trial. In the full service, we will support local languages consistent with the way we localise our game titles.”
What’s your ambition with Home?
“The ambition is to create a highly interactive 3D environment that will bring millions of people together from around the globe to share common interests, build friendships and explore the world of SCE PlayStation.”
Here’s some key aspects:
• Design and build your own apartment, house or even neighbourhood.
• Purchase new landscapes, apartments and furniture
• Purchase new clothing sets, pets and accessories for your character
• Purchase functional items to add value to your private Home experience
• Leave your mark on the world with premium player-created content tools.
• Share photos, movies and music from your PS3 HDD with friends in your personal space.
• Meeting game-specific lobbies to discuss games, get new content or team up for online gameplay
• Individual lobbies created by first and third parties allow for consumer interaction, commerce
But isn’t Home a rip-off of Xbox Live?
“Home is a first of its kind 3D community that allows for open interaction between consumers, SCE and third party partners. It is a truly interactive, global community of users. Xbox Live is a static, 2D, text-heavy environment that can’t match the rich community features found in Home. Xbox Live community interaction is much more passive and limited to the members on that friend’s list.”
Sounds a bit like Second Life?
“Home is a much more rich, user friendly experience than Second Life, allowing for ease of entry and use, as well as being fully-functional with the technology and capabilities of PS3.”
And how are you going to make money from it?
“The business model for Home is based on a combination of ecommerce and advertising revenue, but we will not discuss the exact details of our business model.”
Can third party partners get involved?
“They’ll be able to build their own custom lobbies for their products, where they can present information to users, provide downloadable content and implement various ecommerce models. Advertising options will also be made available through Home, in addition to sponsorship of in-world events and Home real estate.”
What is the difference between Home and PS Store?
“Home is a real-time online 3D, networked community available on the Network, while the Store offers free and premium digital goods delivered directly to your PS3.”
How big is the Home download?
“The Home download is targeted to be under 500 MBs.”
More of this to follow in a second piece. Images/videos also set to follow.