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PlayStation (Games) Sony Entertainment Games

PlayStation Home Beta Opens to the Public 206

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 BobReturns ( 1424847 ) on Friday December 12, 2008 @09:44PM (#26099061)
    Virtual worlds will take off when they manage to get the socialising aspect right - ie as easy as chatting in person or through video. Which to my mind at least means more or less never. I, for one, don't want to have to invest effort in learning how to work a virtual world when it would be far easier to IM/Skype/E-mail someone. It baffles me that companies invest actual money in virtual presence on things like Second Life.
    It makes sense in the context of MMORPGs, but stripped of gaming there's really very little point. You can never communicate as well through an avatar as you can face to face, over a video link, or even in less constrained text environments such as e-mail where you are free to express yourself at length. If the world of Snow Crash ever came to pass, then it would make sense - the Metaverse in there allows for depth of expression.
    And as for the PS3, if I want to play a game or watch something then I'll do it. I don't want to have to 'go to the theater' or the 'arcade'. I have a console so that I don't have to. And the virtual world features certainly don't offer me any incentive to waste that time getting there.
  • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) * <> on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:28PM (#26099341) Homepage

    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.

    And about 1% have even heard of Home.. and even then at 3am it was so full it was unusable.

    Of course, give it a week or two and it'll be empty.

    One gigantic party? LOL. Sounds like you've never even seen it. It's loads of people wandering around aimlessly using their 'hello' macro and looking at dumb psp adverts.

  • by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:41PM (#26099411)

    Home does generate an insane amount of terror in the fanboys of other platforms where they start lashing out incoherently.

    Here's a quick hint for you: when you start saying completely ridiculous things like this, it's a good sign that you're the crazy-assed fanboy, not the other guys.

    (Full disclosure, I own a Wii, I've had it for two weeks, and I've never owned any other game consoles in my life. Pretty obviously not a fanboy here, so don't even try it.)

  • PS3 Fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <[enderandrew] [at] []> 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 Conception ( 212279 ) on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:48PM (#26099469)

    *looks for the "Disclaimer: I am employed by Sony" and finding none assumes it was a forgetful mistake and moves on*

  • 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 wish I hadn't forfeited my mod points trying to cram in a Penny Arcade link earlier, so rather than mod you up I'll respond.

    The less-than-perfect launch seems to be a minor point of criticism. I think some of the fundamental game choices are the object of their ire. Choosing to artificially limit access to content seems to be the main objection. It makes it more similar to real life, but it also makes it much more frustrating to people. It's already selectively enhancing part of real life, why can't it eliminate scarcity? If there's a technological reason that prohibits that, then hopefully we'll find out about it sooner or later and adjust expectations for the (server-side and client-side) hardware accordingly.

    It seems to work splendidly for more narrow objectives, such as having a meeting place for a clan. I hadn't heard that brought up before, and that's a really good point. However, as a general multifaceted virtual world it seems to fall short of its aims.

    As a final note, I don't have any current-gen consoles, and I really only use my Xbox for a living room media player, so I can't really say I have fanboy-like opinions for or against the PS3. These are just some comments from someone bored at home.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:39AM (#26100087)

    I know this sounds ridiculous, but just hear me out.

    What if we just like the game selection on the 360?
    What if we didn't buy our console to get into some e-genitalia-measuring contest with random people on the Internet?

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:43AM (#26100115)

    I don't like Home at all, but you seem to be the typical Sony Hater who is using the opportunity to spread a lot of your most favored misinformation.

    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.

    Except by tens, and eventually hundreds of millions of PS3s... that is not a negligable number, and it is even doing some practical good for things like Folding At Home. ...And what is so great about BluRay?

    Obviously not much of a movie watcher. The increase in quality across the board (sound, resolution, color) is well worth the format.

    I think a replacement is at least ten years off, the industry cannot switch sooner even if some other far larger format arrives.... but with BluRay expanding to 400GB discs that the current PS3 can read, just when is that supposed to happen? ...And name me some of Sony's first party games.

    You are joking, right? Right?

    Because surley anyone even a little close to gaming could name some really beloved and well-known titles like God of War, or Ratchet & Clank. Going down the list of newer stuff there's Resistance, or the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus series. Or the monster that is Metal Gear Solid (and I don't like it at all myself, but tons of people are drawn to the thing like flies). Or Gran Turismo.

    The PS2 had a wealth of great first party developers and they are going full steam on the PS3 now. I didn't even mention things like the upcoming Killzone 2, since I don't think anyone really had much attachment to the first episode (I never played it). ...Just like MS and Nintendo did?(smaller high quality PSN games)

    Now Microsoft kind of did that first, but I would argue Sony did it much better. From the lack of download sizes, to the quality and range of stuff they offer I think PSN is well ahead of either platform in that regard.

    Microsoft has made a good move with XBA, but I don't know in the end as a gamer I would be better served from the output there compared to somewhat fewer, but much better polished PSN games that are numerous. In fact most of the gaming I do on the PS3 is PSN game related.

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

    What you should probably face yourself is that they are catching up rapidly. Not that Home will help in any way I think, but in all other things the PS3 offers it makes for a great all-around gaming package in a way the other systems do not.

    I do think the Wii will probably hold the lead the entire generation though, it seems unlikely anyone could possibly surpass them.

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2008 @01:10AM (#26100253)

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2008 @02:28AM (#26100581)

    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.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:01AM (#26100755)

    My worry is that Sony will make Home the preferred way to create groups, have multi-user chat, set up private games, use the Store and so on.

    If they do that, the PS3 will die as a multiplayer platform.

    When I play a game, I want to play a game. More specifically, I want to play this game. I do not want to play Second Life to be able to play $multiplayergame. Someone might enjoy 2nd life. I don't. I don't want to be forced to move through some pseudo-multiuser virtual world to do what I want to do.

    If people are anything when it comes to their games, it's impatient. Know what was the first thing that made consoles popular over computer based games, back in the good ol' days when computer came with floppy discs and consoles with cartridges? Load speed. It took seconds at most to load a console game, it could take a minute to load a computer game. Right behind it was ease to use. Push the cartridge in and play. No booting, no disk swapping, no searching for the right executable.

    When people now have to meander through some virtual world to finally do what they wanted to do in the first place, they will most likely ponder whether it's worth the hassle in the first place. When I fire up a game and select multiplayer, I expect to be in a multiplayer lobby where I may pick my partners/enemies and go on to play it. A system that does not offer this is going to be replaced with one that offers is.

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

    by Brianech ( 791070 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:02AM (#26100757)
    Guess you missed NPD numbers for the month of November.
    Wii - 2.04 million
    DS - 1.57 million
    Xbox 360 - 836, 000
    PSP - 421,000
    PS3 - 378,000
    PS2 - 206, 000

    Gimmick or not, the Wii is still selling overwhelmingly well. Cant argue that. And the attach rate for the Wii is slightly higher than the PS3's (5.5 to 5.3) Personally I have played my Wii a total of 31 hours in 1.5 years, but it still sells well, so its not nearly a failure

    The PS3 isn't bad, but like the parent said, Sony expected to ride the PS2 wave, and didn't spend nearly enough time getting a decent launch catalog. This wouldn't have been a problem, but the 360 had a year head start, so it became a determining factor for the early months of the PS3. I was able to easily buy my PS3 2 days before Christmas a month after launch. The only game I bought was Resistance (22 launch titles, but barely any exclusives that I couldn't have already gotten for my 360)

    The 360 itself had fewer launch titles than the PS3 at 18 (22 for PS3) but over the course of the year, had an extensive library. The attach rate for the 360 is 8.1, but that's also because of the year head start. Its strong showing last month could be attributed to the massive price cuts, but even then November is the start of holiday shopping and could be a bad sign for the PS3. It will be interesting to see the holiday sales difference between the 2 consoles.

    Sadly Im a tech nerd that "needs" to have the latest gadgets, and has a job that can support my habit haha. I personally like all 3 consoles, but the Wii is more of a party console, the PS3's online service sucks and Home just made it worse and forced installs bug me, and the 360 always has me fearing the RROD. That said I spend much more time on my 360 than the other two, but that could change when Heavy Rain comes out (previews look awsome, guess we'll know more as it comes closure to launch). But sadly there just aren't that many more exclusives coming out for it. All of my co-workers have 360's and only a few ps3's so part of the reason my 360 gets more use, is due to playing online with them. So all multi-console game releases that I buy, I buy for the 360.

    This is just my take on all 3 consoles, I own all 3 and play all 3 (although mostly just the PS3 and 360). Im sorry I dont like Home, and you will probably call me a fanboy of Nintendo/MS for saying that. But lets face it, Home is a pretty large letdown, and the loss of many exclusive series for the PS3 is also a large hit (Resident evil for example). So from one PS3 owner to another, lets not pretend the PS3 has already won the generation, and just admit Sony hasn't been perfect.
  • by TFer_Atvar ( 857303 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:06AM (#26100785) Homepage
    It's extraordinarily difficult to code games for a virtually infinite number of software and hardware configurations. That leads to all sorts of bugs and problems that usually aren't fixed on a PC game until after the first or second round of patches. With a console, I know that things are going to be pretty darn good out of the box, since there's only one configuration that programmers have to deal with.

    In addition, I never have to worry about upgrading my system to ensure that I can play the latest game with all the graphics options turned on. Because every console edition is the same, I don't have to worry that I don't have the XX37 uber graphics card on my Xbox360. Sure, there's things like a hard drive to worry about, but that's a massively smaller problem than the infinite number of PC configurations out there.

    In short, I like my console more for gaming because of its simplicity. By releasing Home, Sony has tried to make the console more complicated, more like a PC. And that's not what I want.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:11AM (#26100809)

    It's one of those "wtf" moments, ain't it? I mean, was Sony still asleep when Atari started off the console market?

    What made the very first consoles popular? Why did people go out and buy a console to play PacMan or other classics? Price? Because they didn't want to spend quarter after quarter? Probably not. It would probably have been cheaper than the console. They wanted to play what they want to play when they wanted to play it, at the leisure of their home, without having to go down to the arcade, just to find out that someone else is currently hogging your favorite machine and you wait for him and pray for him to finally fail or for a brief blackout (brief! Or you couldn't play either!).

    And now this key argument for consoles is done away artificially? If there's one thing people hate it's waiting for something that someone else is currently enjoying. It's frustrating to see someone else have fun with something you want to have fun with. And this very nuisance is deliberately added?

    I'd really love to hear the reasoning behind it. I just can't think of a good, sensible reason why one should artificially limit something without any tangible gains.

  • 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.

  • by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @01:16PM (#26103857)

    Don't care if he's right or wrong. Phrases like "insane amount of terror" when describing an online gaming system are ridiculous and indicate that this person is mentally unwell.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982