The tool in this case is Home, Sony's Second Life-flavoured answer to Nintendo's Miis and Microsoft's community features and Achievements. It's a virtual home for you and your friends and a virtual world for people and companies across the globe, and keeping the spinning mess stuck together is cold hard cash.
The new service - due this spring in beta before it's added to the Xross Media Bar (for free) at the end of the year - allows you to create an avatar and a home you can decorate MySpace-style with your own photos and videos. (Disclaimer: MySpace is owned by News Corporation, which also owns IGN Entertainment.) Sony has gone to great lengths to create a malleable environment you can customise as you please. Quite why you would want to watch video on a virtual TV while you're staring into a perfectly good one is something you'll have to ask Sony. The arcade games are a nice touch, though.
Xbox Live has been an enormous success for Microsoft, and it's come to be one of the defining features of the Xbox 360. Since the console launched in November 2005, more than 6 million people have joined Xbox Live and between them they have activated more than 5 billion Microsoft Points for use on the Xbox Live Marketplace. That translates to about $27 million. Second Life, on the other hand, has developed a vibrant multidirectional economy where Linden dollars, which can be traded for real currency, flow between users and companies to the tune of $5 million a month. Second Life users make real money by trading items and services in a true user-generated environment.
What are the chances that Home will see similar support? For one thing, Sony has demographics on its side. The average gamer these days is 33-years-old, which just happens to be the exact same age as the average Second Life player. It's a similar story over at MySpace, where more than half of all users are reported to be 35-years-old or older. There's a larger question though.
Is this really what PS3 owners want? Is Home not simply a glorified friends list brought to life in a virtual world that brings the nightmare of omnipresent advertising into our spare time away from the media glare as well? Are people going to spend real money to clothe their avatars and decorate their houses? Will people go to virtual cinemas to watch clips of games, TV shows and movies if they can get them via more traditional means? It's hard to imagine gamers frothing over Killzone and Gran Turismo 5 caring too much about Home and yet the obscene price of the PS3 means that Home is less accessible to more casual gamers. Exactly who has Home been created for, and perhaps more importantly, will they be there on the PS3 to enjoy it?
There are still a lot of questions about the trophies that Sony hasn't addressed. Is this something that the company is going to mandate in future PS3 games? Is the trophy room the only place you'll be able to see them? Will there be some sort of number attached so that people can compare and compete? If not, do the trophies even matter? It's fair to say that Microsoft stumbled into the success of Achievements but now that they're here, they've set a standard or sorts - one that Sony isn't approaching directly.
The problem with user-generated content and communities that spring up in support of social networking tools is that they are dependent on the fickle wants of users. Sony has done a decent job of researching what's hot in the social networking space and it's put checkmarks next to the features of most of the big players in the scene, but there's no guarantee that Home won't turn out to be a bloated response to the relatively simple and more tightly integrated features of Sony's competitors. But, hey, at least it's free.
Are you looking forward to Home? If not, why? I'd like to hear what you think.
Time will only tell how this will play out. I am very much looking forward to Home, but I agree there are some serious issues that need to be ironed out.
Thanks for posting the article.
Message Edited by chawknz on 04-28-2007 11:11 AM
why dont you just post what it says? not everybody is gonna pay for an account there.
QCVic wrote:You have to be an Ign insider member to read the full article. If you are please read it and tell people what it's about....