Sony has revealed that the new online modes for their new portable, the PlayStation Vita, will be called Near, Party, LiveArea, and Activity.
According to Sony Europe manager of R&D, Phil Rogers, Near is a location-based gifting system that can be compared to the Nintendo 3DS' SpotPass. "What Near does is it allows users to discover each other, leave gifts for each other and essentially find out more about games," said Rogers.
"You can see where people are in relation to your location, their five most recently played games and also gifts that they've registered. This is fairly cool because it exposes users to games they might not have heard of and you can see how popular those games are and how people are rating them."
Near will allow your gifts to follow you around with up to a 100KB gift box per game. Boxes can contain multiple gifts but they won't be able to go over the 100KB size limit.
Here's how Rogers explained Near's functionality, taking a jab at how it's better than the 3DS' SpotPass:
"Imagine user A visits locations one to ten through that day, and they get home and sync with the server and it uploads to the Near server your ten locations that you've been to. User B comes along, does the same thing, but at some point in User B's day they passed User A's location five, which means they're now able to collect gifts that that user's dropped. That comes into the Near application and then in-game they pick up those gifts."
With Near, you'll be able to decide how many times a gift can be picked up, how long a gift will last for, who can access the gift, and the probability of finding it. You'll also be able to write gift-givers a note to say thank you.
Plus, items won't be the only things that are giftable. According to Rogers, you can gift people challenges that will give them rewards if they're successful. You can also gift people in-game items with Near.
Party is another online functionality for the PS Vita. Rogers described Party as a good way for, "having friends together to discuss games, chat about them and get into them."
Party will allow you and three friends to form a party similar to an Xbox Live party. Regardless of what you do on the Vita, you'll still be in your party. You'll be able to chat across games through text and voice, according to Rogers. In other words, cross-game voice chat will be available on the Vita.
Similar to Xbox Live, you'll be able to launch Vita games within Party mode and your friends can join you.
There will be three modes in the LiveArea part of the Vita that can be updated by developers and publishers. LiveArea is where you'll go to launch your Vita and it will include Index, Live, and Game. From here you can start a game, comment on people's activities within a game and publish messages.
Publishers will be able to push data to users by putting images or announcements on the LiveArea front page. This will allow a more customized experience for the users. Interestingly enough, LiveArea also has a location features that will allow publishers and developers to track Vita owners.
Activity mode will allow players to discuss their progress. "The system automatically puts a few activities in there," Rogers said. Things like Trophies and ratings. "That encourages people to then comment similar to Facebook style," he said.