PlayStation Home (also marketed and referred to simply as Home) is a community-based service for the PlayStation Network which has been in development since early 2005. Home allows users to create an avatar for their PlayStation 3
console. This avatar will get their own virtual apartment space (called
a "HomeSpace"), which can then be adorned with items users can receive
in several different ways.
The current version of Home is v1.02 and was released to "Closed Beta" testers on December 5, 2008. The "Open Beta" will be available for download to the general public in December 2008. In a Q&A session with IGN, published on their website on November 25, 2008, Sony Computer Entertainment America
Director of Hardware Marketing John Koller described the release of
Home as "imminent" and stated that he expects the public launch to take
place before the end of 2008.
PlayStation Home, originally named 'Hub', started as "The Getaway Online" for the PlayStation 2.
However, this project was never completed before release of the PS3, at
which point the developers began porting code to the new platform. Phil Harrison,
the then president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios,
liked the idea of having a virtual 3D community hub for PlayStation
gamers, and transferred the project to be PlayStation Home. However, the project was kept under high secrecy.
An online-based service had been the subject of speculation since the launch of the PlayStation Network.
Sony had expressed interest in such a system, specifically the
achievements, for first-party titles, though they never released any
specific information regarding it. PlayStation Home, as a feature, was first publicly mentioned in an interview with NG-Gamer, detailed by Kotaku and finally confirmed by NG-Gamer. It was officially announced by Phil Harrison on Wednesday March 7, 2007, during his keynote speech at the 2007 Game Developers Conference and was originally scheduled for a global public release in September or October 2007.
During the Tokyo Game Show 2007, Home's full release was announced to be delayed until "Spring 2008". On 21 April 2008 Sony Computer Entertainment announced that Home would be delayed further and the closed beta would be extended until "Fall 2008". However it was confirmed that more PlayStation Network users would be
invited to join the closed beta during this time. An announcement on
the Official PlayStation Europe user forum confirmed that invitations
to the closed beta would be offered to winners of a weekly Warhawk online gaming event. Kazuo Hirai,
President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, said that "Spending
more time on the development and on the Closed Beta testing reaffirms
our commitment to bringing a quality service, maintaining the
Environment and Layout
Version 1.0 bowling alley room
Version 1.0 "listening post" outside
Photographs and video released by Sony show Home users meeting in a
plaza/town square type of area. They also show users in their own
apartments with their own choice of decor and furnishings. Users can
also invite other users to their apartments.
In the world outside of the player houses, players can meet and chat
with other community-members. One can invite their friends, hang out
and communicate via voice chat, or normal text chat, listen to music,
play a game or exchange content. People who enter each other's "home"
(called a "HomeSpace") can stream the host's music and videos from
their HDD. Videos are viewed via virtual Sony TVs, such as the BRAVIA. Photographs can be viewed via a virtual picture frame.
Every user has a private apartment space that they can modify and
change over time. The basic apartment is free and will offer users lots
of options for customization and personalization. In the future, Sony
will provide tools that will enable users to have an even greater
ability to create their own Home spaces and content.
At time of release, the user's "home" will be streamed from their own PlayStation 3,
meaning that if the user logs out of Home, then access to this user's
apartment no longer exists until the user logs on again. According to Sony, they are looking for new ways to get around this issue.
The world of PlayStation Home will not only consist of players'
houses, but there will also be arcade-games that can be played, as well
as games like pool billiards and bowling.
The look of the avatar, decorations, where to travel, settings, etc.
can be controlled with the new Menu Pad as of version 1.0. This used to
be a virtual PlayStation Portable (vPSP), but it has been removed due to the addition of the in-game XMB
feature, eliminating the need for the vPSP's XMB. Sony has said it will
be strict on spamming of the Home system. They have told gaming website
GameSpot that they will be able to block a user's console and IP address so that they cannot connect to the service.
In time, Home will play host to many types of events such as
exclusive game previews and developer interviews. It will be organized
by Home and its affiliated content providers. Live events such as
sports and concerts may also be broadcast within Home. These will all
be pre-paid using the Sony Wallet System.
Home will also contain a virtual cinema which will screen films that have been released on DVD/Blu-ray, the seating areas containing other Home users will be seen and the screen is viewable
there will be an option to select full screen mode so the content
playing will appear the same as any other video, DVD, or Blu-ray played
from the PS3 System.
In addition to the main public areas offered by Sony and the
personal apartment area, many game developers will open their own
spaces showcasing their products, developers that have created spaces
for home include; EA, Activision, SEGA, Ubisoft, Rockstar Games and THQ. Individual games will also be allowed their own space.
In the future areas can be developed by major companies outside of gaming. The then Executive Vice President of SCEE, Phil Harrison
stated that locations built around famous coffee companies, famous
drinks companies, clothing companies, record companies, major retailers
and so on could feature depending on whether these companies felt it
worthwhile to create something for Home.
Hall of Fame
There will be a 'Hall of Fame' which will include a Trophy Room. The
Trophy Room is a Home Space where users are able to display their
gaming accomplishments. Players will be able to earn Trophies when they
play games that support the Trophy system. The more Trophies a player
has dictates which games they own and how skilled a player they are.
Publishers and developers will be able to support Trophies by building
them into their games' architecture, and existing games may be updated
with patches to support it, as evidenced with Lair.
There will be at least four ways to communicate with other users in
the environment. Users will be able to type on the virtual keyboard, a
USB or Bluetooth keyboard, talk using a USB or Bluetooth headset, and
use e-motions, which are movements such as waves or a dance. These
e-motions are based on emoticons.
For convenience, there is also a library of textual messages to choose
from via the controller or keyboard, such as "Hi" or "How to do.. ".
PlayStation Home will feature updates that expand the social and
gameplay aspects of Home. The closed beta has received an update from
Sony that have given the users the ability to access their patio and
upload photos inside their virtual space.
Another feature of the update is a purple and blue building outside in
Home Square was recently opened to reveal the Home Marketplace. Other
features, such as the much speculated monorail transport system as well
as Home Trophies, have yet to be released to the beta testers. Sony
will, in the future, release more updates to expand PlayStation Home
into a larger, more interactive world. Phil Harrison said that in the future pets and more robust clothing will be available on the service.
Version 1.0 of PlayStation Home was released on 21 November 2008. This version is available to beta testers as a 77MB
download from the PlayStation Store by redeeming a code sent to the
beta tester's email. Upon installation, 3077MB of hard disk space is
reserved for the application. Additional downloads are needed to access
the different environments such as the lobby, movie theater and bowling
alley. Those rooms' download sizes vary from 25-45MB each.
Version 1.01 was released on 27 November 2008. This patch added some Korean language localization fixes.
Version 1.02 was released On 5 December 2008. This patch was released to "provide support for the server update".
Commerce and content
Although the service itself will be free of charge, content will be
available on the PlayStation Store, such as clothes, furniture and game
specific accessories, which can be purchased, but some might be
available free of charge. Content can also be unlocked on specific
games. Larger apartments can be purchased that come with games such as billiards or a swimming pool.
Advertising will be a big part of Home, and Sony expects retailers
to create their own lobbies and deploy them for commercial purposes. At
first, Sony will stream advertising from their own Home servers. Later,
other companies will be allowed to insert their own ads into the
network, including dynamic advertising targeted at particular users.
All transactions within PlayStation Home will use the Sony Wallet
system within the PlayStation Store, although ultimately transactions
will be possible without leaving Home.
Users will be able to make money in Home by using an auction service
that will be implemented which will allow users to sell their Home
assets and user-created content to other users. In a 2007 keynote
speech, Phil Harrison use the term "Game 3.0" to describe the service.
In addition to content sold, users will be able to earn certain content based on certain milestones in a game.
Timeline of beta trials
- Launch of closed beta trial planned to continue until the services full launch in October 2007.
- Sony announces at the Tokyo Game Show that the release of Home
would be delayed until Spring 2008, and that the closed beta would be
extended until then.
- Sony announces that the product has been delayed further, until
Autumn 2008. The closed beta trial would be extended and opened up to
more PlayStation Network users at an undisclosed date.
- An announcement on the SCEE forums confirms that winners of a weekly Warhawk tournament would be invited to join the beta
- A PlayStation Home XMB theme is released on the PlayStation Store
in Japan. The download registers the user's interest in joining the
beta, but users will ultimately be hand-picked by SCEJ.
- A localized PlayStation Home XMB theme is released on the
PlayStation Store in North America, which similar to the Japanese theme
will register the user's interest in joining the closed beta. Sony has
stated that users will be chosen based on their activity on the
PlayStation Network and the PlayStation Store.
- SCEE sends beta invitations to the most active users on the European PlayStation Network and PlayStation Store.
- SCEHK announces details for the Home for the Asian region and starts accepting applications for the closed beta on August 29, 2008. Sony will also grant invitations to users who purchase more than HK$60 or SG$12 worth of content in one single transaction over the PlayStation Store from August 29 to September 12, 2008.
- The closed beta was expanded twice: once on September 2, and again on September 19. It was also announced that Sony would continue to expand the closed beta many more times prior to the start of the open beta.
Version 1.0 as it is installed running in the background
- The closed beta is expanded further as SCEA send out invitations to Qore subscribers in North America
- Version 1.0 of the Home client is released
- Further batches of invitations are sent out to users in North America, Europe (including Australia and New Zealand) and Japan
- Version 1.01 released
Current release schedule
- Closed beta: April 2007
- Open beta: By 25 December 2008
- Final release date: TBA.