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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 nweaver (113078) on Friday December 12, 2008 @09:17PM (#26098847) Homepage

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/12/12/ [penny-arcade.com]

    Makes you want to rush out and get a PS3.... NOT.

  • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Friday December 12, 2008 @09:19PM (#26098861)

    I loaded it up early this morning, and in short, it's terrible. It's everything bad about Second Life meets the Xbox NXE meets Miis. I was going to write a lengthy explaination as to what's wrong, but Tycho over at Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] has done a much better job hitting on everything, and using bigger words in the process. So without further ado:

    The Beta for Playstation home is now available to everyone, and now you know what I know: this is what happens when your marketing department tries to make a game. Here is everything you need to understand about Home, if you should accidentally launch it from your XMB: press and hold the Playstation button in the center of your Dual-Shock or Sixaxis controller. From the menu that appears, select Quit.

    There are things about Home that are simply beyond my understanding. Chief among these bizarre maneuvers is the idea that, when manufacturing their flimsy dystopia, they actually ported the pernicious notion of scarcity from our world into their digital one. This is like having the ability to shape being from non-being at the subatomic level, and the first thing you decide to make is AIDS.

    If you approach an arcade machine and there is a person standing in front of it, you will not be able to play it. Likewise, if you see people bowling and think that bowling is something you might like to do, you probably wont be able to. Unable to play arcade games like Ice Breakers and Carriage Return the first several times we logged on, these games had begun to take on an epic stature in our minds. These were gushing fonts of liquid fun, habit-forming and dangerous - for the good of our virtual society, the supply had to be controlled. When we were finally able to play them, we learned that they were the equivalent of browser games.

    There is nothing about the experience of using Home to suggest that you are actually moving through a single, contiguous environment. It is very clearly a handful of walled off zones, where you are confronted by incessant load screens in a desperate search for stimulation. From the moment you enter one of their ultrahygenic "amusement regions," it's clear that all life has been burned away. You get the sense that this is a place in which no interesting thing could ever happen.

    There is already a growing school of Home apologetics, fostered by the same Order of Perpetual Masochism that lauded the rumble-free Sixaxis at launch and suggested, hilariously, that Lair and Heavenly Sword were videogames. They're under the impression that because something is free, this places it on some golden dais beyond censure. It's no virtue to give away something that no-one in their right mind would buy. Sony has no idea what this world is for, and that ambiguity infuses every simulated millimeter of it.

    This is the terrible secret that roils beneath their false universe: it is nothing more than a cumbersome menu, a rampart over which you must hoist yourself to accomplish the most basic tasks.

    (CW)TB out.

    • by Xaoswolf (524554)

      It's no virtue to give away something that no-one in their right mind would buy.

      I wish more people would realize that...

  • If you want to use Home, you don't need to buy anything. If you want to spend money on premium clothing/decor items, the feel free. Its $0.50 for almost every item, have fun.

    I don't see a flaw with this in a BETA -- they don't know how many things people will pay for, or what price to make them, but its a good time to find out.

    • Re:Flawed? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Junta (36770) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:12PM (#26099583)

      It can be legitimately criticized, despite being a 'free' product. Notably, an obviously large amount of time and money was invested into this. Instead of considering Home 'free', one could wonder what they could have alternatively done with the servers, developers, or simply the money. Maybe they could have not had those servers and developers and lowered the console price. Or they could have pieced something compelling together. As someone who purchased a PS3, I'm interested in evaluating all the Sony offerings that are being provided free of additional charge, as my purchase contributed revenue they used to do this.

      Looking back since they first started teasing Home, it has been a very long time. Now that we've had a chance to see what it has taken so long to piece together, a lot of people may rightly say "that's it?". I know, it's "beta", but few projects with this degree of uncertainty would survive so long without declaring a 'release'.

      In my view, there is something actually interesting about the fundamental concept. I could see how the experience could be relaxing. It's obviously comparable in Second Life. Both have yet to hold my attention longer than a first impression, so maybe it isn't as interesting to me as I would think.

      Compared to Second Life, I think Sony's Home has done a good job of looking significantly better. The best of second life doesn't look as good, and the prominence of objects designed with all the design talent of the average MySpace page author clutters that landscape with ugly atrocities. Of course, if trying for the social networking aspect, to date the popular ones have been those to allow maximum creativity, for better or for worse.

      What they have done worse is aim for too much realism. The avatars move painfully slow. The 'bowling alley' is all but useless because all the slots are pretty much always in use. They could (and should) mitigate this through more instances of 'bowling alleys', I guess it is a matter of them determining the best balance between too sparse and uselessly dense. I would wager if they doubled the instances of bowling alleys, people wouldn't be bothered by the immediate appearance of limited supply, since they wouldn't have any hard time finding an empty lane or whatever. Also, the ability to import such attractions into a personal space could help, so a group of friends would always know where/how they could pass the time. It's clearly a casual gaming play here, which is a proven genre of interest.

      I remain dubious of Sony's direction in general. They did this 'Qore' thing in which users are expected to buy pure advertising. Then they realized they wanted to advertise and so they did this 'Pulse' thing. Then they released this 'Home' thing. All the while not seeming to deliver what PS1 and PS2 had achieved success with, a solid set of games.

    • I don't see a flaw with this in a BETA -- they don't know how many things people will pay for, or what price to make them, but its a good time to find out.

      Beta today is not Beta 10 years ago. Today services that people depend on, such as gMail are beta. People use OSS beta software all the time, beta has become the new "1.0" release. Today, most "1.0" releases are equivalent to a "1.01" release.

      • Whether people choose to pretend that betas are full services or not, Beta doesn't change meanings for the rest of us.

  • 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!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by _xeno_ (155264)

      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 re

      • by grumbel (592662)

        it's a worse version of something that the PS3 has done since launch

        I wouldn't say it is that bad, I actually like having advertisment, trailers and stuff shown to me while doing something else in the virtual world. The Playstation Store surely is faster, but if you don't know what you are looking for it doesn't really help all that much, Home on the other side shows you stuff you haven't been actively looking for (which is how I learned that there was an ew Watchmen trailer). Home however has two huge problem. The first one is that movie trailers in the cinema require load

    • That's funny, because I thought the 'NXE' xbox interface was quite homely and vapid as well. Sony and Microsoft are beating themselves to death trying to recreate some buzz around virtual characters like the Wii has. (Don't Sony and MS realize that the online portion of the Wii is as hard as Mandarin Chinese to get anything useful going on with 4000 character "friend codes" and other fun stuff.) Still, I despise the beta of home, and I got to experience it before the open beta. I got utterly bored... It
  • PS3 Fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@noSPam.gmail.com> on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:46PM (#26099449) Homepage Journal

    I just bought my second PS3. I'm a PS3 advocate, but frankly Home is two years too late. I think Sony went into this generation expecting to coast on their reputation from previous generations, and didn't do enough to actually win people over. The PS3 is the best BluRay player on the market, and a solid console, but frankly I'm not sure it even matters anymore.

    • 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.

      • Dude...

        1. fire up bittorent/usenet

        2. download a 1080p mp4 movie

        3. put it on usb drive

        4. plug drive into xbox360

        5. play movie in all HD goodness via HDMI cable to your expensive HDTV

        oh did i mention its free?

  • 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 Hal_Porter (817932) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @02:54AM (#26100709)

      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.

      It would have been better to create the world with a few computer controlled furries and reward people for killing them. It would create a sense of community for one. The leaders of the lynch mobs could become important political leaders of the virtual world, massive photos of them would hang from buildings, lesser minions would get stuffed furry heads to decorate their apartments. Later on you could have plagues of Miis too, which would need to be eradicated to encourage patriotism toward the platform and hatred of its competitors.

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      No furries.

      I do find it funny that people cry over other people having furry characters.

      I guess it's more of a "They can't have fun like that! It's stupid! If I can have fun like that, NOBODY SHOULD!" kind of logic.

  • 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 BeanThere (28381)

      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.

      Wait ... double-take ... what kind of person who is in a "financial bind", to the extent that he is worried about saving for food, is sitting around playing games on a PS3 over a broadband connection!? No wonder the economy is the way it is and these people are in financial trouble ... get off your bums and do something constructive. I hope you're not one of those in a "financial bind" - the fact that you're then sitting around posting to slashdot about it just makes it even worse.

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        Wait ... double-take ... what kind of person who is in a "financial bind", to the extent that he is worried about saving for food, is sitting around playing games on a PS3 over a broadband connection!?

        Your average university and college kids, young adults who have crappy jobs and nothing better to do etc.

        No wonder the economy is the way it is and these people are in financial trouble ... get off your bums and do something constructive.

        So, they have to do some constructive during their own 'pleasure' time?

        • by BeanThere (28381)

          I honestly don't understand your logic.

          Then you're part of the problem too; the OP specifically was referring to people who were basically worried about simply having the money to pay basics like foods/gas etc. ... don't you see the connection? Remarkable.

          • by Ash-Fox (726320)

            Then you're part of the problem too; the OP specifically was referring to people who were basically worried about simply having the money to pay basics like foods/gas etc. ... don't you see the connection? Remarkable.

            No, I don't. The circumstances don't change whether or not they play on it or not in their free time. The money difference? Well, generally people buy things like PS3s etc. when they can afford, not when they can't. What the OP was referring to was people hitting hard times like now.

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You guys are really boring. ok, it's something new different, not quite the coolest thing you've ever seen, but since it's SONY I guess you're going to rip it apart no matter what it actually is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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 Anonymous Coward

    I'm modding and this whole discussion on PS3/Home is totally pointless as there doesn't seem to be anyone who has got any objectivity about this.
    Is Home worthwhile?
    Is there a good chance it will improve over time?
    Will it sell more PS3s?
    What's lacking?
    What's good about it?
    Is there a point in Avatar style virtual worlds?

    So I'm leaving this idiotic troll fest and modding elsewhere.

  • 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
  • by jlarocco (851450) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:12AM (#26100813) Homepage

    That a pretty bold statement given that the business model hasn't actually been tested yet.

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