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Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Brief Defense Of PlayStation Home

Yesterday, Sony gave the world details about their Home concept, a mashup of avatars, online lobbies and advertising space.

By today, there have been a lot of people weighing in.

For instance, Joystiq ponders if PlayStation Home is just a sex den in disguise. Which is a bit like writing a review of World of Warcraft and saying it's like having cybersex - but with elves. Or even worrying that Home will be home to griefers and idiots - as if this doesn't plague every online concept in virtually all of gaming since the days when modems still bothered advertising baud rates. Some just wish Sony had bought Second Life outright it seems.

All of these are just aspects of online worlds in general. They're either too open or never have that one feature that everyone wants. I don't see how any of the above are stumbling blocks above or beyond any other online community. Heck, I'm helping someone organize a bulletin board system and let's see.... check, check, check and check.

Curmudgeon levels the three basic worries, I think. First is that it's not a finished product. Second that it might be overcomplicated. Third is that there is paid content.

Let me address them in reverse order. First - of course there will be paid content. And plenty of advertising. I don't see how that's a huge deal as long as the basic services - connectivity, lobbies, achievements, matchmaking - are still free. So you want that floating bed instead of a futon? So pay for it. The real question is the cost. Are we talking $5 horse armor here?

Second, games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars and even my old fave Phantasy Star Online use this kind of setup all the time and it really is never a problem. Actually I loved PSO's setup - almost more than any other matchmaking setup I've used. It was fun and personal.

The real question as to how complicated it will be, however, speaks to the unfinished aspect of the design. While others are worrying about sex dens - I'm wondering if Sony will be sure to add in the basics that need to work above the virtual world. Buddy cards, the ability to ping other players from anywhere in the world, LFG lists - that kind of thing.

I think it's a grand idea and it needs some details to fill in the gaps. However, that's not even why yesterday excited me. Yesterday excited me because it was really the first time Sony started to explain why the PlayStation 3 might actually distinct itself from other offerings. This more than anything has been my complaint about Sony since they announced the PS3. While most of the world seemed to be worrying about the price point and shelved units - I was still wondering when Sony was going to announce something worth talking about.

They finally have - and even if I hate the term "Game 3.0" ... it's something worth talking about. Sony has a lot of answers to give ... will Home be offered to all developers? When will their "Edge" tools be ready to wear? Is this all we get? Will you stop producing stupid ads?

Still ... they are answers I'm more willing to expect now. Sony says that they are now ready to make this the year for software ... and if they can produce the goods then the PlayStation 3 might finally become the product they were talking about so many months ago.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Spot on. A lot of what I've been reading around the web fits into the "it's cool to bash Sony, so lets knock their Home idea".

The home is not a feature I see myself using extensively outside of hooking up with mates for multiplayer games, but it still look extremely polished and has me somewhat excited about Sony again.