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PlayStation (Games) Sony Entertainment Games

PlayStation Home Beta Opens to the Public 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-are-the-rocket-launchers dept.
Yesterday Sony launched the open beta for PlayStation Home, the virtual world designed for PlayStation Network community members. Eurogamer has an in-depth look at the features of Home. They point out some glaring weaknesses, such as a poor communication system, a flawed business model, and the inability to form groups without entering games, something the recently revamped Xbox interface does better. "It's not alienating, it's easy to identify with, and the socialising and advertising are entirely in context. But you're left pondering the inevitable question: why would you want to spend any time here?" Home's debut to the public saw a few typical launch-day problems, but Sony was quick to address them and get things back on track. Gizmodo has some screenshots and basic information available.
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PlayStation Home Beta Opens to the Public

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  • by rkanodia (211354) on Friday December 12, 2008 @09:35PM (#26099007)

    Home is basically a collection of mini-games tied together by a giant pain-in-the-ass world where you have to walk around and stand in a real line in order to use a piece of virtual equipment.

    Movie trailers are not the worst idea in the world. I might be interested in watching movie trailers on my PS3. What I'm not interested in doing is logging in to Home, going through a million loading screens, and then watching a trailer (which one? Whichever one they're showing! Want to change it? Too bad!) in a virtual theater full of actual jackasses jumping up and down in front of the screen ("Yo dawg, I know you like TV, so we put a TV inside your TV so you can watch TV while you watch TV!") and make homophobic comments over the voice chat.

    Meanwhile, there's nothing to actually DO with anyone you would meet in Home, so the 'social MMO' aspect of Home is totally pointless. I keep waiting for Ken Kutaragi to hold a press conference just to announce, "The Aristocrats!"

  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Friday December 12, 2008 @09:56PM (#26099149) Homepage Journal

    I might be interested in watching movie trailers on my PS3.

    Great, then head on over to the PlayStation Store, where you've been able to download HD movie trailers for the PS3 for ages! It does sort of make the Home movie theater seem kind of stupid when you think about it, though - it's a worse version of something that the PS3 has done since launch. But don't tell the marketers that, you know they're just salivating at the thought of being able to force us to watch the trailers they want us to watch rather than trailers for movies we're actually interested in.

    Meanwhile, there's nothing to actually DO with anyone you would meet in Home, so the 'social MMO' aspect of Home is totally pointless.

    I remember trying to enter a store in the "mall" area and getting a dialog informing me that there were no items in the store. I'd accept that for an alpha, but you'd think they'd get around to offering real content by open beta. Even better, after displaying the dialog, it dumped me into the store anyway, and then made me confirm that I really did want to exit the empty store.

    You could, however, buy a new "apartment" area for $5 which you could then fill with the nothing that's available.

    I get what they were trying to do with the "social MMO" part, but wow did they miss the mark on that one. There really is nothing to do in Home. I can't imagine that there's really anything Sony can do to fix it, either - it's just a dumb concept.

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:04PM (#26099213) Homepage

    The point of games is to "entertain" - i.e. waste time. If you want to "meet up" with other (paid content) game players before launching, Home is at least more interesting/diverting than the battle.net text login screen.

    By its placement, Home will always be lame, noone would want it to compete with purchased titles. If it can compliment them and provide a "universal pre-play lobby" that all the PS=3 games can use for players to "hook up", then I think it will be "successful."

  • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75&yahoo,com> on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:45PM (#26099445)

    Clearly you either work for Sony or are otherwise tasked with promoting Home. And I don't just mean that because I find it so unbelievable that anyone could be so gung-ho about such an obviously flawed program, but also because you've clearly got your hands on information that nobody could possibly know given the limited amount of time the public has had to digest this thing at this point. I played around in there last night for a few hours and I didn't see half the stuff you're talking about.

    There are 18 million PS3 already worldwide with 14 million PSN accounts. So the massive amount of traffic on the Home servers yesterday was understandable. No other MMORPG or online world has ever been build to handle such a gigantic userbase.

    Then why did I only see about 200 people total in the entire world last night?

    Let's break it down. Last night when I tried to connect to the PSN network, I was told I'd need a system update. Half an hour later, my system went through its reboot and I was done with that. So, then, go to load home. Another download, another reboot, another half an hour. So, now I'm finally in my apartment. I go to leave, and am confronted with yet another download.

    What regular person is going to put up with this? This only even has a prayer with the truly hardcore. It's too much work to even get started.

    Everyone is filling out their friends list with people they've met. People are playing the in Home games together, checking out the initial game spaces for Uncharted and Far Cry 2, dancing in the social music area, or just hanging out chatting with their old or new friends.

    I saw, and I am totally serious about this, nobody doing any of these things.

    There are things to unlock in the various games throughout Home for your avatar or personal spaces. And of course there are things you can buy if you wish to.

    I certainly found things I could buy (who is Sony kidding with this? I'm going to pay $1 for a fake table?). I found nothing I could unlock. And if I couldn't, no average person who doesn't have four hours to kill on a Thursday night is going to.

    If you are a solo player you can setup up an online game and then invite or have people join you while you are in Home. It shows which game you have setup under your name for other to see. Once you are ready you all launch together right into the game as a party.

    Again, I saw not a single person doing this. Why would you invite people this way? It is much, much easier to simply start up the game and send out an invite.

    And then there are the third party game spaces that almost every console developer is in the process of creating. You don't have to have the game to enter these areas. Each of these spaces look just like the real game and give you a feel for what the game is like with the overall art style of the space, pictures from the games up on the walls, and movies streaming from the game.

    You can't see it, but I'm rolling my eyes.

    The ability to walk around in a space that looks kind of like a game is not very compelling to me, nor I suspect anyone else. Give me a demo and I'm a lot happier, not to mention a lot more likely to buy the game.

    What you're saying is not unlike what Linden Labs was saying about Second Life (how every major company was building "islands" in the game). We all saw how well that worked out. People would rather just look at stuff on a web page.

    And there are already third party non-game Spaces going into Home like Red Bull's space that is going live next week.

    Great, so I can experience an ad!

    Can you please tell me why you think people will want to do this? Every single time somebody has tried to position an ad as if it's some sort of compelling content, it has failed. Especially in virtual worlds. Every single time.

    A year from now it looks like there will be easily more than a hundred different Sony, third party game, and third party non-g

  • by mollymoo (202721) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:02PM (#26099545) Journal

    Where are the dedicated servers for Call of Duty 4 & 5, GT5p, RSV2? Warhawk is the only game I've played on my PS3 which had dedicated servers.

    I have a PS3, but I play on a friends' 360 regularly. Live is so good I've got a Live account even though I don't have a 360 myself. It's just better than PSN - it's faster (updates, menus, messaging - Live itself, I don't mean the games), people actually have mics and use them, you can form groups (parties), you can see what your friends are playing, the reputation system means you can prefer and avoid players and the player matching will take that into account, the list goes on and on. PSN is lacking so many features Live has had for years it's pretty embarrassing. It does cost money, but Microsoft use that money to ensure the Live servers are fast (PSN takes an age to show your own trophies, Live is virtually instant) and they can shove money at game publishers and get early releases and exclusive content.

    I fucking hate Microsoft and think the 360 isn't particularly impressive - DVDs and no mandatory hard drive sucks, everybody with a 360 I know has had the RROD at least once and worn out many controllers - but even I can see Live is just plain better than PSN. The only people who don't think so are fanboys and people who've never used it. A few games with dedicated server doesn't make up for the deficiencies, even when you take the price of Live into account.

  • Re:Oh God... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:52PM (#26099823)

    * Co-developed the most powerful consumer electronic chip on the planet along with IBM and Toshiba

    Not like it will actually be *used*. Its not based on the x86 architecture which eliminates it from being used on both Windows PCs and Macs. And honestly, the speed of the media the console is reading from is a much larger bottleneck than its CPU.

    * Help push through the next gen media format BluRay and included it in the PS3

    ...And what is so great about BluRay? Honestly, I don't see BluRay lasting longer than DVD, and I imagine that 3-4 years from now there will be some other major new format. BluRay is good for today, but I don't see it improving anything in the long term.

    * Massively upgraded their first party developer studio array to over 20 compared to only 10 for Nintendo and, lol, 3 for Microsoft

    ...And name me some of Sony's first party games. Nintendo has Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, and loads of other recognizable characters that are sure-fire sellers. Microsoft at least has Halo which is a sure-fire sale. But what does Sony have? Nothing.

    * Developed the incredible and gigantic Home online service

    ...Which most people hate. Just look at this comments thread.

    * Branched out into smaller but high quality game development with PSN games

    ...Just like MS and Nintendo did?

    * Created at movie download service for sub-HD movie purchases and rentals

    ...*yawn*, does it even matter anymore? Most people would go to a physical location and pick up a $1 per night DVD, get the movie off of iTunes, or stream/order the thing over Netflix.

    * Created the console with most enormous graphical power advantage over its competitors ever in console history

    ...Which looks no better than the 360 honestly. And only looks marginally better when compared to the Wii over a standard definition TV.

    Face it, this generation Sony can't compete with Nintendo and MS.

  • by Carbon016 (1129067) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:55PM (#26099839)

    No furries.

    That's about all good that can be said about it. This genre is inherently unworkable: it's a solution looking for a problem, it's a "virtual world" for the sake of being "virtual" and futuristic. Home addresses no need of the average consumer, it has very little entertainment value, and any applications to organizational tasks are better suited to simpler systems like IM.

    When will these companies realize that you generally tend to invent things to make things easier, not abstract them in a confusing mess of real-life analogies and bloated 3D interfaces? Reminds me of the AOL-esque portals of the 90s.

  • by compasseng (947192) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:26AM (#26100005)

    When the PS3 first came out, I derided them for pushing BluRay, which IIRC was the main reason the console came out so late (?). What I've come to realize is that BluRay is the PS3's saving grace. If they had gone with DVDs like the 360 did, there would be little reason to own one.

    I own all three consoles, and I find the PS3 to be a capable multimedia machine. I use it to play movies and we've rented some off the PlayStation network. But I only own one game for it, compared to my 4 Wii and 9 360 titles.

  • by Ender77 (551980) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:41AM (#26100097)
    Here is what I wrote in the PS3 suggestion thread after playing home:

    " Hi, new to the forum and just want to get my 2 cents in. I tried home and like the potential of what it can be, there isn't much to do at the moment, but I definitely can see where it could go given time. With that said, I can see a lot of negatives that can kill home, especially this early in its infancy. The first and biggest problem I see is that the prices are too high for many. I know some people disagree, but for many of us, it is out of the question for different reasons. Some just cannot imagine spending real money on virtual accessories, especially with no guarantee that home will be around in a few years. A LOT of people are in a financial bind with the way the economy is at the moment and are saving their money for more important things like food/bills/gass..etc, there is no way they are going to waste money on something like this. I personally fall in between those two. Finally, there is just too many people trying this, Sony with home, Microsoft with avatars, games with DLC, itunes, netflix, etc,etc People are having to prioritize where their microtransactions are going. Both Sony and Microsoft will get money at first, but it will eventually taper off with time.

    Another negative affect is that you will be creating two classes of people, the have and the have nots. Your going to see rich brats running around with all the best clothes/items/living spaces while everyone else is living in the equivalent of cardboard houses and donating clothes. Not exactly a place the have nots will want to visit.

    Now, with that said, I can see a possible solution to this problem. If I was Sony, I would get advertisers to pay to put their real world item brands in home (coke, Pepsi, nike, levis, Olivia,Toyota..etc) and give the virtual clothes/itmes away for free. In exchange, sony can give the companies stats about their products, keep track of what people are wearing, what items are popular. They can even put in items not yet released to see what people say about it and if its popular or a dud.

    The other thing is that I would keep the option to pay in real world money for those who have it (and willing to use it), but I would have an alternative in-game money that people can get through activities in home, much like an MMO. These can be things like filling out surveys about products, to having competitions sponsored by advertisers, to scavenger hunts, to sitting and getting paid to watch ads, to get paid to go to sponsors home channels and getting paid to play their games (pop the Pepsi balloons, hit the whack a coke, beat the wrestling Toyota bear..etc). I hope you see where I am going with this. This would seem to be the best WIN-WIN scenario for everyone.

    Like I said, I can see the potential of what it can be, it just needs a little work(and a lot more content) to get it started. "
    ------------

    I also want to add that they need to start showing some actual movies in the theater to try and bring in some people and give people TV sets so that they can watch their own videos/music with friends in their home space. There needs to be SOMETHING to bring people in, so far there is nothing really FUN to do. One other quick thing, why is everything crammed together and scarce? The developers have near god like building powers and they create this small, sparse, sterile, cramped areas and buildings. I hope this was just a stress tess minimum stuff and the real goodies will start coming out. I do believe home could be great, however the are kidding themselves if they believe people are going to pay for all the cool features through microtransactions.
  • by HiVizDiver (640486) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:51AM (#26100171)
    I have to agree with everything the parent said. I spent about an hour in there, and came out on the other side wondering - "why?" Other than people wandering all over the place, I saw a "bowling alley" with just enough people in it to fill all the available games, a mall with stores trying to sell me virtual stuff for real money, and a movie theater full of people calling each other faggots and n*ggers over voice chat. I saw almost no real "socializing", other than some dance party happening off the central plaza, which was mostly about a female avatar being molested by male avatars that I assume are controlled by 12-year olds (or maybe not... 0_0).
  • Re:Oh God... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chaim79 (898507) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:59AM (#26100215) Homepage
    Had to fire back on some of these...

    * Co-developed the most powerful consumer electronic chip on the planet along with IBM and Toshiba

    Not like it will actually be *used*. Its not based on the x86 architecture which eliminates it from being used on both Windows PCs and Macs. And honestly, the speed of the media the console is reading from is a much larger bottleneck than its CPU.

    Right, it's not x86, it's Power PC. That leaves Windows out of the running (who cares?) but Linux/Unix can run it no problem, IBM sells Bladeservers that run it, there are several companies trying to get into the daughter card processor market with the Cell processor. In theory OSX Leopard/Tiger could be modified to run on the Cell processor, both OS's are x86/PowerPC agnostic.

    * Help push through the next gen media format BluRay and included it in the PS3

    ...And what is so great about BluRay? Honestly, I don't see BluRay lasting longer than DVD, and I imagine that 3-4 years from now there will be some other major new format. BluRay is good for today, but I don't see it improving anything in the long term.

    yah.... I have trouble arguing with this... Mainly because the arguments you are trying to use aren't actually negatives... kinda like trying to argue against going outside because the sky is blue... Try again with an actual argument.

    * Massively upgraded their first party developer studio array to over 20 compared to only 10 for Nintendo and, lol, 3 for Microsoft

    ...And name me some of Sony's first party games. Nintendo has Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, and loads of other recognizable characters that are sure-fire sellers. Microsoft at least has Halo which is a sure-fire sale. But what does Sony have? Nothing.

    • Metal Gear Solid 4 (ign score 10)
    • Resistance (9.1)
    • Resistance 2 (9.5)
    • Motorstorm (8.9)
    • Motorstorm: Pacific Rift (8.3)
    • Ratchet & Clank, Tools of Destruction (9.4)
    • Little Big Planet (9.5)
    • Grand Turismo 5 Prologue (8.5)
    • Siren: Blood Curse (8.4)
    • Valkyria Chronicles (9.0)

    That looks like a bit more then just 'nothing'... in fact, those look like some highly rated games... what does Microsoft have again? Halo 3 rated a good 9.5, and how many of the above are rated at or above a 9.5? And that's all you could name for the XBox?

    * Developed the incredible and gigantic Home online service

    ...Which most people hate. Just look at this comments thread.

    Actually agree with you there, no interest in PS3 Home...

    ... the PSN store, while good, isn't spectacular, no argument there.

    * Created the console with most enormous graphical power advantage over its competitors ever in console history

    ...Which looks no better than the 360 honestly. And only looks marginally better when compared to the Wii over a standard definition TV.

    While your statement about how it compares to the 360 works, you comparison against the Wii is just plain dumb... Of course it looks no better on standard def! It's designed for High Def! That is one of the dumbest arguments I've seen, get a High Def TV and see how the Wii graphics suck in comparison to a PS3 or 360 running 1080i (can the 360 push it that high? not sure).

    Face it, this generation Sony can't compete with Nintendo and MS.

    Sony is competing, it's not doing the greatest but it's there and selling more. They've made some dumb decisions, (home), some smart decisions (BlueRay FTW!) and have made progress... who knows, they may just pull out in the lead this generation after all...

  • by MassiveForces (991813) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @02:39AM (#26100639)
    The largest unsharded MMORPG - EVE-Online, could have been a much better choice to implement a socializing system. Eve has been talking about having space stations where people can actually get out of their ships and walk around, do buisness. I would imagine a situation where "Home" is actually situated on populated planets and in addition to whatever BS sony fills home with currently there could be a system of opening businesses to trade with EVE pilots, and for those who actually have subscriptions to EVE to leave planets etc. Then it would be huge.
  • Re:Oh God... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TrancePhreak (576593) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @02:58AM (#26100735)
    What were sales like for MGS4 again? I think if you added up half of the games you listed you'd make up Halo 3's sales.

    http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=21514 [gamasutra.com]

    Sony is losing the game, they need to get back on track and stop fooling around with "no price cuts!" and Home.

    And your comment about 1080i graphics is hilarious. The Xbox1 was able to do 1080i. The 360 runs rings around 1080p, unlike the PS3 with its limited graphics memory and non-unified limited shader units.

    The PS3 is a tangled mess. They rushed it to market and are paying for it.
  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @08:59AM (#26102035) Homepage

    Unlike you I'm smarter than to cherry-pick one month and say anything one way or the other. Look at the long term trends.

    Generally speaking, the 360 has outsold the PS3 month by month. The long term trends are going to be irrelevant if you look at it from a generation point of view, which almost everyone does. Now if you want to combine PS2 and PS3 sales, then yes, Sony is beating Microsoft, but look at that, they need the power of two consoles, one a whole generation behind, to try and stay relevant. The PS2 just isn't relevant. You rarely hear anything about PS2 games still being made (some studios still do it...). This is actually how it's been for Sony for at least a year, if not longer. It's just not cherry-picking one month, the trend is there. The Wii continues to outsell the 360, the 360 continues to outsell the PS3, and the PS3 barely manages to outsell the PS2.

    Newer PS3's don't officially support backwards compatibility, which in of itself is going to be cumbersome for developers. Do I develop for the PS2? For the PS3? For both? Do I ignore Sony all together? How many people bought their PS3 just for blu-ray?

    And what's even more sad about the PS3 is that it's selling less units in a sales heavy month than it did the previous year, while the other two competitors have sold more. This is just in North America alone. Sony needs to address why the sales of their current generation console are barely outselling their last generation console. People might think that the long term sales is a good thing, but I'm not entirely sure it is in this scenario. Sony has a bad name for themselves for everyone else but Sony lovers, and the number of those people are dwindling, if NPD numbers are any indication here.

    http://blog.wired.com/games/2008/12/november-game-s.html [wired.com]

  • Re:Anonymous Coward (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @09:02AM (#26102059)
    A large part of why we're complaining is that it is not necessarily new (Second Life being the most obvious thing to compare it to), and the different things - like waiting in a virtual line - are just plain horrible. The fact that it's from SONY isn't exactly why we're ripping it apart. There's plenty of other aspects to burn.
  • by cyberworm (710231) <[cyberworm] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:27PM (#26104901) Homepage

    I kind of like Playstation Home. It's not a gee-wizz-bang feature, and I don't use it much. But when I do, I enjoy the experience. It's a pretty neat idea, and I'll be using it to look for people who can help me if I get stuck in a game. Oh, and look at game presentations, if they start using it for that.

    It's interesting though to see that the people who "don't like it", actually hate it so much, and that they can spend a lot of time and energy complaining about it (most rants make their point at the first paragraph, and the following 10 paragraphs are just to reinforce how important the first paragraph is to them). One can not help wonder why it's such a big deal.

    I totally agree with you. It's still in beta so there are bound to be a myriad of things going wrong with it. They weren't even on time for the opening of it, what do you expect? If you look at sony's "Home" forums before they announced this open beta launch, people were clamoring for closed beta invites. Everyone wanted to be a part of it and see it. Now that it's open everyone and their mother seem to be coming out saying, "it stinks."

    It was really funny to watch the "Home" forum and all of the spam topics that kept coming up baiting home users and such on the leadup to what was supposed to be the 7am est opening.


    My opinion of it from the closed beta to the open beta is the same. "This is neat, but what am I supposed to do with it?"

    There was really nothing there for me to give an opinion about it. I don't have a keyboard attached to my ps3 and I don't have or want a headset (I like listening to music instead of braying jackasses) so chatting with people was pretty much out.

    I think I would buy a new outfit or something to distinguish my avatar from other people a few times until I'm happy. It's a customization feature and it's certainly not like you have to change clothes everyday. Who knows, maybe they will give out shirts in contests or for special trophies or a free shirt for each game you have etc... I don't know. Sony says it will be constantly changing so they've left the doors open for pretty much anything.

    The purchasing of clubs is an interesting idea also. The fee is probably to keep spam down so that more focused and well run clubs (clans even?) emerge. You could meet up at the video game of your choice with your clan and wait for another clan to show up or pre-arrange a meeting.

    It will be interesting to see what is coming along, if it will always be in beta, and how people react as it changes.

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