Click to viewTurns out the rumor was spot on. Sony's officially announcing the Home—or PlayStation Home as it's less confusingly known—feature for the PS3. We got a demo of it last night from Sony, and we can definitely say we were impressed. Very impressed.
Sony's taken the best of various community aspects and blended it into a theme called Game 3.0. Not an official trademark or anything, it's just their idea that video game equivalent of Web 2.0 and its user-created content would be Game 3.0 (goes along the three in PS3).
So how does it work?
Well, you have private and public areas. Imagine the Sims and the ability to customize your home, your body, your clothes, and your face. The 3D avatar and 3D environment actually looks pretty great, considering it's actually PS3-level graphics and not just something quickly thrown up (like Second Life). You can customize your personal apartment however you wish and invite buddies (other avatars) over to chat, play arcade games, launch multiplayer games, or just hang out.
There are loads of public spaces as well. These can be generic arcade halls where you can play pool and bowl, or game company sponsored areas where you can play demos of their latest games and chat with friends at the same time. There could even third-party non-game areas like movie theaters and clothing stores where you can watch trailers, movies, or try on the latest overpriced shirt from A&F.
Speaking of commercialization, there's going to be ads. Yes, there are 3d Banner ads and HD Video ads embedded inside "appropriate" areas in the public spaces. Fortunately for you, you can bring up a virtual PSP interface from anywhere and warp back home to the (presumably) ad-free space. But in your space, you can load your own pictures from your PS3 hard drive onto a picture frame or your own MP3s onto a jukebox.
This is definitely something we can see people sinking a lot of time into as far as socializing. It doesn't seem to have an economy in it like Second Life, as far as we saw, so all your money will be sent to Sony when you purchase arcade games, furniture, and more clothing for your avatar.
How about for the hardcore gamer? There's the "Hall of Fame", an actual hall with display cases that show the "achievements" (Sony's not calling it that) that you've unlocked by playing games. Not only can you browse what you have, you can go to a gigantic hall (imagine the Star Wars Imperial Senate) and view trophies for games you don't have. Or you can see what your buddies have and compare.
It doesn't have as much depth as Xbox 360's achievements, which has possibly 50+ achievements for each game, but it does give you a neat way to walk around a room and admire just how much time you've sank into playing video games.
Although PlayStation Home probably won't be a big enough feature to actually sell the console by itself, it may just be one of many features that Sony's adding to make it quite tempting to even non-gamers, a segment the Wii seems intent on dominating.