Thursday, March 08, 2007

Well Played, PS3. Well Played.

While this may be ancient history by now, Sony's announcement of Playstation Home at the Game Developer's Conference 2007 will surely throw a wrench in the Sony-hating wheel that's been spinning for... however long it was since they advised people to get 2 jobs to pay for their system.

Before the unveiling of Home, many were skeptical of the online strategy Sony had for the Playstation 3. After being kicked with the browser system, then repeatedly beaten with the content downloader, and finally spit on with some "me-too" announcements for PS3's online features (such as the online avatar [see: Wii's Miis] and trophies [see: Microsoft's Achievement Points]). It seemed that Sony was just riding the coattails of previous successes, not entirely keen on pioneering online features themselves.

Well, flash forward to GDC at the Sony conference, where Sony's Phil Harrison debuted this unexpectedly beautiful and potential-packed software addition every PS3 will be receiving for free. Right from the get-go it was apparent this was no tack-on project, with the impressive graphics and brevity, high levels of customization, and streamlined level layout.

In Home, you'll be maneuvering a character, not menus, to access content. You'll have your own personal living space, a social commons to talk with other online players, and even a trophy/arcade room where past game achievements (with what seemed like small videos of each achievement) could be seen in a bottomless-chasm type of building that waxes reminiscent of the Star Wars senate (you know, where Yoda and the Emperor Palpatine fought- it's also in the video below around the 18 minute mark).

As most gamers know, however, it's best to not laud content before it's released. Voice chat on Halo, which seemed like a godsend at the time, spawned a generation of smack-talkin', insensitive teenage boys that ruined the game for most casual players. Similarly, Nintendo's friend codes slaughtered any hopes of making online play easy, all in the name of security. Home could be the next "great concept gone sour" thanks to rich content but poor implementation/user base.

It's good to see Sony putting more than its foot in the door of online features. They're making their desire to go online apparent, and they're explaining to developers at GDC how Home can be used to increase their games' hype and sales. For this, I applaud you Sony.

It's definitely been a while, but you seem like you're getting your creative juices back and remembering that the future's more than just silicon chips and gigahertz. With any luck, Home will be a smashing success, and online gaming will benefit as a whole.

Boy, and I thought I'd never find a selling point in the Playstation 3...

Sony's GDC 2007 Playstation Home Segment:

Playstation Home Trailer:

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