Just got a press release from Sony. All about Home. It’s pretty matter-of-fact. Basically says that, after months of promise followed by months of delay, Sony’s Home service for the PS3 now has a “release date”.
And that date is December 11.
Course, they don’t call it a “release date”. It’s just the “open beta” becoming “available for all PS3 users around the world”. But, yeah, that’s a release date. And a worldwide one to boot!
PLAYSTATION®HOME BETA SERVICE WILL BECOME AVAILABLE TO ALL PLAYSTATION®3 USERS ON DECEMBER 11
Highly Anticipated Service Open For All PLAYSTATION 3 Users
Tokyo, Foster City, London, December 10, 2008 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today announced that its highly anticipated PlayStation®Home Beta service for PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) will become available for all PS3 users around the world *1 on December 11, 2008. Following the successful completion of the closed beta service, PlayStation Home’s open beta service will continue to evolve with new features and functionality.
PlayStation Home is a ground-breaking 3D social gaming community available on PS3 that allows users to interact, communicate and share gaming experiences. By leveraging the power of PS3, PlayStation Home delivers overwhelming visual graphics and rich gaming social experiences only possible on the PS3 platform. Within PlayStation Home, users can create and customize their own unique avatars and explore the virtual community in real time where they can communicate freely through text or voice chat. PlayStation Home users will not only be able to enjoy variety of entertainment content such as mini-games, videos and special events along with their friends, but will also be able to create their own community by using the “Club*2” feature to create clubs with other PlayStation Home users who share the same interests. PlayStation Home also allows groups of users to launch directly into their favourite online games together from PlayStation Home.
PlayStation Home, available as a free download*3 starting December 11, will launch directly from the PlayStation Home icon on the PlayStation®Network column of XMB™ (XrossMediaBar) on PS3. Users will be able to experience basic features and services of PlayStation Home, free of charge*4. PlayStation Home will allow open interaction among users, business partners, Kotaku press releases and SCE, and will evolve with additional features including dedicated game spaces, special events and exclusive themed items, to further enrich the entertainment experience on the PS3 platform.
“PlayStation Home is truly a promising network community service on the PlayStation platform, made possible with the powerful combination of PS3′s overwhelming computational power and PlayStation Network that covers many countries around the globe,” said Kazuo Hirai, President and Group CEO, SCE. “We are committed to providing PS3 users with exciting gaming experiences with PlayStation Home and together with our partners and users, expand the new world of interactive entertainment as we move forward.”
For users accessing PlayStation Home in the Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) regions, themed virtual environments will be available to explore. Starting with a themed Far Cry 2 space, PlayStation Home will offer game inspired environments that allow people to discuss the specific games, plan strategies and access content and clues that will enhance the gaming experience. The number of gaming environments such as this will regularly increase, with spaces for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune™, Warhawk™, Motorstorm and SOCOM following very soon. SCEE is working with leading publishers such as: Electronic Arts, UBISOFT, Midway, Sega and Atari to create engaging environments that will provide users with an on-going gaming experience.
“We are very excited to be bringing PlayStation Home to Europe and the PAL territories, offering users an interactive, social, gaming experience,” said Daniel Hill, Home Service Manager, SCEE. “PlayStation Home is unique to anything else in the gaming world and by partnering with both global and regional gaming and non-gaming brands, we are able to offer exciting and entertaining content that will enhance the PlayStation experience.”
SCEE today also announced the first partnerships with some of the world’s most respected lifestyle brands for the Open Beta. Fashion leader Diesel, contemporary furniture designers Ligne Roset, energy drink Red Bull, film studio Paramount Pictures and video content providers Hexus TV and Eurogamer are the first on board. They will offer resident’s virtual clothing for their avatar, virtual furniture for their PlayStation Home apartments, exclusive video content and a virtual flying challenge: the Red Bull Air Race.
Visitors and residents will be able to explore PlayStation Home with their avatar character and, thanks to Diesel, avatars can look great from the start with Diesel offering the latest men’s and women’s designer avatar clothing, with items ranging from free of charge to €1.50. So for those visiting PlayStation Home, they can dress their avatars in the latest jeans and jacket prior to getting out and about.
On the home front, PlayStation®Home gives everyone their own apartment to spend time in and entertain friends – who will now be able relax on exclusive Ligne Roset furniture. At the virtual store, people will be able to choose from a selection of the most popular Ligne Roset designs, including the iconic Togo and Facett upholstery collections. It will be possible to personalise furniture by selecting from a wide selection of fabrics and leathers allowing a unique and individual look. This is an opportunity to get acquainted with Ligne Roset’s cutting edge designs created by some of Europe’s most talented designers.
As the very first consumer brand space, Red Bull has created the Red Bull Island where visitors to the Island can interact and take part in many of Red Bull’s unique events. Initially there will be the opportunity to get inside the cockpit of a Red Bull Air Race plane and compete against the PlayStation community. The real-world Red Bull Air Race World Championship has become a global phenomenon in just four years, attracting millions of spectators. Now those spectators can leave the stands, become a pilot and tackle the Red Bull Island course themselves. The Red Bull Island will continue to expand, adding new and exciting content in early 2009.
Taking full advantage of the PlayStation Home Theatre, SCEE has partnered with various content providers to enhance the cinematic experience. Offering a wide range of content, the PlayStation Home Theatre will provide lifestyle technology programming from Hexus TV, gaming content from Eurogamer and exclusive film content from Paramount Pictures. Starting with the release of the highly anticipated film, Watchmen, Paramount Pictures International will use PlayStation®Home to promote its latest films. Initially, PlayStation®Home residents will be able to view an exclusive video greeting from Watchmen Director Zack Snyder as well as the latest Watchmen trailer. A selection of virtual Watchmen merchandise e.g. T-Shirts with the smiley face logo, Doomsday clocks and character statues, will also be available in the New Year, ahead of an exclusive Q & A event where cast and filmmakers will meet selected press and competition winners fans within the Watchmen themed environment.
PlayStation Home is exclusive to PS3, free to download and easy to join. It’s the ultimate online community – a place where you can meet friends, try the latest games, hear new music, watch videos, relax in the apartment of your dreams and much, much more. With more and more spaces being created and partners like Diesel, Ligne Roset and Red Bull coming on board, the PlayStation Home experience is just getting started.
SCE will vigorously promote the expansion of the world of PS3 by introducing new services that will open up new possibilities and enjoyment in interactive entertainment.
*1 PlayStation Home will not be available in some regions.
*2 To be a “Clubhouse” owner, user will need to buy the entitlement to run the club.
*3 When the service is available, PlayStation Home icon will appear after booting/ re-booting the PS3 system. To enjoy PlayStation Home, users will need broadband network connection and PlayStation Network account in addition to the PS3 system.
*4 Some content and services are charged.
We always knew Home was going to be heavy on advertising and corporate sponsorship. But this heavy this soon? It’s a little unexpected.
Contained within the press release nailing down the service’s launch were a number of sponsorship/marketing announcements. For games, for movies, for…contemporary French furniture.
Here’s a rundown of Home’s first batch of corporate tie-ins:
GAMES: We’ve seen a number of these before. But in addition to the Far Cry, Uncharted and Warhawk spaces there’ll also be MotorStorm and SOCOM themed areas. And that’s just the start. EA, Sega, Atari, Ubisoft and Midway will also be contributing “engaging environments” for Home in the near future
MEDIA: British tech site Hexus TV and gaming site Eurogamer will be part of the PAL launch, both outlets providing video content for Home’s various theatres and screens. Paramount Pictures will do the same thing, but presumably on a more global level.
WATCHMEN: Specifically mentioned in the release is a bunch of Watchmen-themed tie-ins. Director Zack Snyder has recorded some kind of “video greeting” for new users, while your virtual avatars will in the new year be able to spend your real money on t-shirts, clocks and statues. Also mentioned is “an exclusive Q&A event”, hosted by “cast and filmmakers”, where press and fans can talk the movie/comic from within a Watchmen Home space.
MISC.: Can’t think of any other way to classify this. Along with the already-announced Red Bull sponsorship (which, as you could probably guess, is a virtual Red Bull air race), Home will also launch with a virtual Diesel store, giving you the chance to dress your avatars in…well, virtual Diesel gear. Interestingly, Sony say the items will range from “free” to a maximum of €1.50.
A Diesel store’s nothing compared to the last item on our agenda, however. And that’s a custom store for…contemporary French furniture company Ligne Roset. I can’t put this any better than the press release, so…
At the virtual store, people will be able to choose from a selection of the most popular Ligne Roset designs, including the iconic Togo and Facett upholstery collections. It will be possible to personalise furniture by selecting from a wide selection of fabrics and leathers allowing a unique and individual look. This is an opportunity to get acquainted with Ligne Roset’s cutting edge designs created by some of Europe’s most talented designers.