GDC: Now You Can Go "Home" With the PS3's New Interface

Typing chat messages to your Xbox Live friends to get ahold of them will seem like playing in the sandbox if Sony’s new interactive online user community, named "Home," functions as well as it looks. The new PS3 feature was unveiled this week at GDC, and from early impressions of the new feature, it seems as though it is the reincarnation of a Sims game, rather than a simple way to meet others on Sony’s online network. In fact, the layout looks so familiar that Electronic Arts and Second Life developer Linden Lab may do a double take after seeing the interface.

The new feature gives PS3 owners the ability to customize a personal 3D avatar, which can be modified in millions of ways by choosing different styles of clothes, physical attributes and other features that will represent the user. But this isn’t the end of the scope of what can be done while in Home. The avatars will have a virtual world where they can enter virtual community centers, shopping malls, public squares, and even private living quarters. In addition, these virtual apartments will offer users a trophy room in which game accomplishments can be shown off.

So is Home an online game, or is it just a new way of interacting with the growing Sony community? If you look at the demo video, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. The Home feature basically allows you to roam in Sony’s virtual world and do just about anything that you’d be doing in a game, except that this "game" is open-ended and has no real storyline. The main concept of the interface is to provide a place where you not only get the opportunity to visit with your friends online via this Sims-like environment, but it also allows you to meet new users, conduct your purchases online, or just wander through the virtual city to explore. The service–outside of real purchasing activity–will be free. The new feature will be available sometime this fall, and will be entering its initial beta testing in April.

The similarities between Sony’s Home, Second Life and The Sims‘ may be an explosion waiting to happen. These aspects of Home’s avatars are strikingly alike the aforementioned games. Whether this produces an avalanche of lawsuits is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure–the new Home feature is sure to raise the level of interest in the PS3. And that is certainly significant, as it is something that hasn’t happened since last November, when the machine first launched.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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