Home is Sony's answer to Xbox Live, except instead of a text-only dashboard that integrates online sales and play into the system itself, Home is a completely separate virtual world where your avatar can explore the environment, hang out socially with other gamers,and organize multiplayer games. Imagine a sort of Second Life game with lesssex and more Warhawk, and you get the idea. ThreeSpeech's Steve Boxer talked to Jamie Macdonald, VP of Worldwide Studios, Paulina Bozek, Executive Producer of SingStar, and Peter Edward, Director of the PlayStation Home Platform Group, about Home and other aspects of PlayStation 3 online gaming. The entire interview was fascinating, but let's look at the highlights.
There might not be a single release date for Home: "We want to scale up the numbers so we can get feedback from the users and find out how they’re using the service. And as the service grows and as we start bringing more people in, we’ll get more of an idea as to how they’re using it and build it up with them, rather than just going out there with a product that ticks all the right boxes."Sony hopesHome will pull in a wider audience: "…there are lots of other family-members and friends who might see [core gamers] using Home and think: 'That looks fun: I’m not normally the sort of person who would use a PS3, but let's have a go with it.'"They want to make money: "Sony is in it to make revenue from it, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it. But there are revenue opportunities for everybody there, in the long-term. Obviously there’s advertising and sales revenue for us, even physical sales channels, going through other fulfilment channels for partners."Big Brother is looking out for you: "We can get a lot of information about the kind of user you are–your age, location and that kind of thing–so we can be pretty confident about knowing you are who you say you are. So we can protect you in that respect."Porn? Maybe not: "For instance, a casino or even somewhere you can go and see 18-rated trailers for games. That isn’t anything particularly sinister, but obviously, you’d have to prevent 12-year-olds going in there. Obviously, there are other 18-plus areas that you could imagine, but some of those might not come to fruition."
Keep in mind ThreeSpeech is one of Sony's own blogs, so the questions weren't that hard hitting, but there is a lot of information. Many companies have tried to turn virtual communities like Home into a way to sell things directly to consumers, but so far very few of them have taken off. Sony looks like it's in a good position to take a crack at the market, though.