PlayStation Home director Jack Buser gave an interview with Gamasutra about the upcoming virtual world and its an interesting read with a few great tidbits hidden within.
The service, which will be released as a public beta before the end of 2008, is the topic of much discussion on the internet.
Jacks talks about the service, "which is free to use. It doesn't cost anything more. For the users who want to stand out there will be microtransactions; you'll be able to buy virtual items or even premium virtual spaces." Are you going to buy extra clothes, furniture, or spaces? If so, what do you think of Microsoft's plan to do basically the same thing with Avatars and clothing?
Jack also sees home as a "neutral place" where can get to know somebody before inviting them onto your friends list.
There used to be the arcade; you could go up to the nearest machine, put a quarter in and start talking about the new games that were coming out as you play.
But that place doesn't exist any more. If you're a gamer, unless there happens to be an event in your town there is no place to meet like-minded people. Home is that place. It really leapfrogs the offerings on other game consoles.
I tend to think that the discussion of games has moved to the internet with sites like this one, messages boards, and chat rooms. I disagree with Mr. Buser's claim that such a place doesn't exist anymore. I mean, what are we doing right now? We're discussing Home, which is a new game that's coming out.
As for the claim that Home will let you talk about games "as you play," I still don't see Home as something you play. It's a service and an experience, but it just doesn't scream "game" to me.
Buser also believes that Home features "seamless integration [with gaming]; you can fully set up your online game within the world, wander about and find your friends or find some new people and then jump into the game as you've set it up with them; bypassing all those in-game configuration screens, and once you're done you just jump back into Home."
This is where I start to lose Sony on Home. Basically, they want me to turn on my PlayStation 3 and log into Home. Once that's loaded, I can find out who's online and chat or "meet up" with them. Then we start talking about the game we want to play and set it up through Home... then we finally launch the game. It's nice that it'll jump directly into the game, but why load into Home at all when the XMB already has a friends list? I'd much prefer a more streamlined game-invite system that works directly from the XMB while I already have the game running.
I'm all for a virtual world if that's what it focuses on, but trying to sell me on "seamless integration" of multiplayer gaming into a service that's just going to take time to load already increases the amount of time it takes to get a game going, regardless of how well integrated it is.
However, this is just my opinion and I know a lot of people are excited about Home. So, prove me wrong. Why is Home going to be awesome?