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About Sony Home

About Sony Home article

Recently, Sony has unveiled its Home service, which will be a virtual world of sorts that allows PlayStation 3 owners to create virtual avatars and interact with other PS3 owners in an environment reminiscent of Second Life. Sony has also adapted some of the ideas of their competitors, including the customization of Nintendo's Mii Channel and well as an achievement system like the one implemented by Microsoft on Xbox Live.

The question that the staff of CCC answers this week is "How do you feel about Sony's Home Service?"

D'Marcus Beatty, Co-Site Director

Personally, I don't think I could be more excited about the Sony Home service. I've recently purchased a PlayStation 3 and have been disappointed by the incredible dearth of great exclusives on the system. Almost anything on PS3 can also be played on my Xbox 360 where I can actually earn achievement points for my progress. As more and more Sony "exclusives" find their way to the 360, there seems to be less reason to actually own a PS3 other than status or Sony fanboyism. Then Sony announced Home and my feelings changed.

I'm excited about the idea of a virtual avatar, as I always felt the Miis on the Nintendo Wii were unnecessarily cartoonish and not appropriately next-gen enough for me. And although I love my achievement points, they don't do anything but sit on my system for unnamed and unknown other gamertags to peruse and comment silently on my prowess or lack thereof. Sony has taken both of these concepts and improved them, making them more functional and next-gen. They can be considered thieves (especially in light of the motion-sensing Sixaxis…Yeah the technology has been around for a while, but NO ONE was doing anything with it until the Wii came along, and all of the sudden Sony is doing the same thing?) but in this case, thievery is a good thing. The console wars make each company (Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony) have to do their best to attract gamers, and in the end, the gamers win, since in trying to best one another, the companies have to make better offers and products.

Do I think Sony will deliver on all of its promises? That I answer with a resounding no. I bought a PS2 hard drive the day it was released, and after FFXI, I saw almost no support for it, despite Sony's claims to the contrary before its release. I may be a cynic, but I don't believe Sony can or will deliver everything about the Home service that it claims. Home might not be free or there might be problems with the video streaming or the voice chat. Right now, the Home service sounds too good to be true, and that usually spells trouble.

Overall, I'm still excited about Home and will definitely be a regular on the service when it launches. Despite my cynicism, if Sony delivers on half of its promises, Home will be the interface to beat. Nintendo and Microsoft take notes and step up your game!

About Sony Home article

Maria Montoro, Co-Site Director

When I heard about Sony Home, I felt angry at them for doing it again; it seems like every time they come up with something good for their systems it's an improved version of what somebody else has already done. It's a good marketing strategy because they probably only spend half of the resources for research and development and they give people what they want multiplied by five. Of course, they don't always deliver what they promise and that provokes angry gamers but, at the end, everyone forgives Sony and continues to buy their products.

Is this a bad thing? I guess this is what we call the console wars, and everybody is entitled to play it however they want, as long as they don't get into copyright infringement issues. Sony's lack of imagination doesn't imply they can't win this battle because, after all, they're the ones actually taking things a step further so the consumer can enjoy it, and, meanwhile, they will enjoy the profits.

When I think of Home, I think of the Sims and I think of MySpace. I consider both things likely to become obsolete sooner or later. The basic premise of Home, creating a large online community through the PlayStation 3, sounds really good. However, it will take a while until people decide to buy such an expensive system with such a small library of games, and I think Home won't make things any easier. Once people own the system, sure, they'll give it a try, but I doubt it will make people buy a PS3 just for that.

About Sony Home article

Also, things are never as good as they sound and, even though the expected package sounds very promising, it probably won't work out as expected. Or will it? I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, but as of right now, I've felt more disappointments with the different consoles that one should expect, and that's not good. Nintendo promised great online gameplay that hasn't quite happened yet. Coming out with a Pokemon game that you can play online eight months after launch doesn't sound very exciting. The Xbox 360 offers online video conference with your friends, but half of the time it doesn't work and many times for different reasons. Sorry, but that's what computers are for. Sony will have to work hard to offer a really good service that puts them on the top. Home will keep people entertained at the beginning, but those things don't last forever, especially if it doesn't deliver everything that was promised or if they start charging money for half of the features it offers.

In my opinion, we should leave "socializing" for real life because there will never be a more authentic experience than that. Limiting ourselves to living a "virtual life" with no real expectations or goals can't last that long! People, just learn how to interact with others in real life, use online communities to entertain yourselves when you're alone, but don't make it the center of your lives or you won't be able to experience the real world!

Jonathan Marx, Freelance Writer

It is absolutely obligatory for Sony to develop an internet matching, vending, and social resource for their next generation console. Additionally, it has to be of the highest quality. Modern gaming demands a comprehensive, integrated site where gamers can quickly and easily upgrade and improve their gaming experience. Sony is notorious for improving upon the ideas and concepts of others. This isn't cheating, it's business. As consumers, we should be very happy that there is such stiff competition between the big three. They are constantly raising the bar, and we reap the reward. I think it is not only ethical but imperative that a company, such as Sony, learn from their competition and then refine and improve its application. Initially, Xbox Live will continue to rule online gaming because they have an installed consumer base in the millions, not in the thousands. Sony Home will be a dynamite service in the years to come, however, as they recapture market share and continue to improve upon their online services model.

It's interesting that the finger has been squarely pointed at Sony. Nintendo has not released their online service yet. Sure we have portions of it, but it is constantly evolving and Nintendo will certainly react to the actions of its competition. Nintendo is going to release a number of new channels for its Wii that will incorporate and develop further the ideas and applications of its competition. Why do you think the Wii does not have a matching service yet? The answer is that they are going to wait until Sony and Microsoft have shown their hand. Then they are going to release a series of channels that fully meet the needs and expectations of the next generation consumer. The very nature of an online service, like Sony Home, Xbox Live, and Nintendo who-knows-what, is that of an ever-changing platform. The big three will all have online services that are very similar to each other with only slight differences that only mildly distinguish one company from another. All we can do is pull up a chair, sit back, and watch the show.

About Sony Home article

Philip Hanan, Freelance Writer

I have mixed feelings about PS3's Home system. Free is definitely good, and I feel that if a game console developer is going to offer a console for sale that focuses on online play, it should be free. We gamers pay enough for broadband service every month. We shouldn't have to pay extra just to use the full features of a system.

Still, it has features which both make it better than some online systems and make it lesser than. I suppose it depends on what you enjoy about being online.

For example, take Wii. It's about finding someone you like to game with and expressing your personality within a game. There's no voice chat, video chat, etc. It focuses on in-game personality.

Xbox 360 on the other hand, focuses on connecting with gamers and not expression. The main thing to show off is how many Achievement Points you earn, but unless someone takes time to view how many games you own/rented, they won't know whether your score is impressive or not.

PS3 tries to combine both Xbox 360's online system and the Wii's, but doesn't take anything good from either one. It's a mixed up set of features which is not easy to use and doesn't focus on being deep or easy.

For example, the PS3 focuses on chatting, but not instantly like 360 gamers can do. You must meet people virtually like in a DOA4 chat room. If you want to find some free games, you must find them virtually within someone's home after they invite you. There's no Arcade to view and no hint on how to unlock games. Will PS3 games have hidden games inside them? I think most people who want to play an arcade game will want to view them instantly and buy them. We don't need any more arcade games hidden inside car garages, etc.

Another problem is the clothing. It's great being able to wear clothes devoted to games like Ratchet and Clank, but you will only be able to display certain clothes at a time, which means that unless you can show off your entire wardrobe in your apartment, no one will know how skilled you are. Unlockable clothing and household items will mean nothing.

About Sony Home article

I also fear that Sony will feature advertising throughout the online world. For example, there may be a pop-up ad if you complement someone's virtual shirt. Sony may attempt to get you to buy the same game that the shirt was inspired by. I can also easily see hackers stealing items and leaving virtual people naked.

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