PlayStation Home

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PlayStation Home
PlayStation Home Logo.png
Developer SCE London Studio
Loot Entertainment (Products)
Outso (Content)
Heavy Water (Content)
Virtuos (Content)
Type Online community service
Virtual world[1]
Launch date December 11, 2008 (Open Beta)
Current version 1.86
Last updated September 12, 2012[2]
Platform PlayStation 3
Members 31 million (as of March 2013)[3][4]
Website

North America Japan

Asia

PlayStation Home (also marketed and referred to as Home) is a virtual 3D social gaming platform developed by Sony Computer Entertainment's London Studio for the PlayStation 3 on the PlayStation Network (PSN). It is accessible on the PS3's XrossMediaBar (XMB). Membership is free and requires a PSN account. Upon installation, users can choose how much hard disk space they wish to reserve for Home. Home has been in development since early 2005 and started an open public beta test on December 11, 2008.

Home allows users to create a custom avatar, which can be groomed realistically. Each avatar is given a personal apartment that users can decorate with free, bought, or won items. Users can travel throughout the Home world, which is frequently updated by Sony and its partners. Public spaces are made for display, entertainment, advertising, and networking. Home's primary forms of advertising include spaces themselves, video screens, posters, and mini-games. Home also features many single and multiplayer mini-games, and hosts a variety of special events, some of which may provide prizes to players. Users can use won items to further customise their avatar or apartments.

History

The initial "Central Plaza" was indoors and separated from other spaces.

PlayStation Home[5] was originally named "Hub",[6] and started as a 2D online lobby for the PlayStation 2 game The Getaway: Black Monday. However, the online userbase for the PlayStation 2 was too narrow and the project was soon ported to the PSN for the PlayStation 3. Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios at the time, liked the idea of having a virtual 3D community hub for PlayStation gamers, and transferred the project to become the current PlayStation Home.[7] In a 2007 keynote speech, Phil Harrison used the term "Game 3.0" to describe the service.[8]

Home had been speculated since the launch of PSN, when Sony expressed interest in such a service, specifically trophies (known at the time as "entitlements") for first-party titles.[9] PlayStation Home, as a feature, was first publicly mentioned in an interview with NG-Gamer.[10] This was later detailed by Kotaku[11] and finally confirmed by NG-Gamer.[12] It was officially announced by Phil Harrison on March 7, 2007, during his keynote speech at the 2007 Game Developers Conference[13] where it was originally scheduled for a global public release in October 2007.[14]

Home was delayed and expanded[15] multiple times before initially releasing.[16][17] Invitations to the closed beta were offered to winners of a weekly Warhawk online gaming event.[18] In August 2008, Sony sent additional invitations to select users who downloaded a new Home XMB theme in Japan and North America.[19][20] Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) and Sony Computer Entertainment Hong Kong (SCEHK) also sent out invitations to select users for a closed beta.[21] Users who purchased more than HK$60 or SG$12 worth of content in a single transaction over the PlayStation Store from August 29 to September 12, 2008 were also invited.[22] In November 2008, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) invited annual Qore subscribers.[23] After major version 1.0, invitations were sent worldwide.[24][25]

Home's open beta test began on December 11, 2008. In March 2009, an alternate reality game involving puzzle and intrigue called Xi proved popular after it was released by nDreams for Home. In June 2009, Peter Edwards, Director of Home for SCEE, reported that the number of users exceeded 7 million and that 80% of users were male, aged 18 to 35.[26] At TGS 2009, Kaz Hirai announced that Home has been downloaded by 8 million users.[27] Jack Buser, Director of Home for SCEA, stated that the name of the "beta" was not going to be removed.[28] In a Eurogamer interview with Peter Edwards on July 24, 2009, Edwards commented that the service will no longer be beta when it "represents a kind of final quality."[29] On October 14, 2009, Jack Buser commented that "the vision of Home has evolved." He said that originally, they were building Home as a "social network for gamers", but it has now developed into a "game platform, first and foremost."[30]

On December 17, 2009, SCEA released its first massively multiplayer online game, produced specifically for Home, called Sodium. It is a series of games, the first being Sodium One.[31]

In February 2010, emails were sent out to a select few PlayStation Home members inviting them to participate in a new private beta test for the service. This beta test was for feedback on certain changes suggested by the Home community.[32]

North American Central Plaza from version 1.30
North America's central meeting point, the Central Plaza from version 1.30

The first global "public space" was released on June 10, 2010, allowing all users from the Asian, European, Japanese, and North American Homes to converge in one space. This space was called the FevaArena Global Pitch Area, which was dedicated to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Arena allowed all of Home's users to participate in events and mini-games to celebrate the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[33]

In June 2010, Sony released a virtual replica of their E3 2010 booth in all versions of Home.[34] The virtual E3 booth, slightly modified, returned the following year with previews of seven different games and the PlayStation Vita, with virtual rewards for watching the videos as well as a demo of a new PlayStation Home game, "Scribble Shooter". In addition, Sony's E3 press conference was streamed live in PlayStation Home in a special virtual theatre, as well as other live interviews that occurred during the week of E3 2011.[35] The E3 virtual booth returned again for E3 2012, this time featuring previews of 12 games as well as a virtual avatar of Christina Lee (host of PSN's Pulse) hosting a special E3 Quest for all 12 games with rewards. Finishing the quest granted access to the VIP section previewing upcoming PlayStation Home games and content, including the upcoming massively multiplayer online racing game Mercia, as well as Hell Fire Games' upcoming Home Tycoon.[36] The E3 virtual booth returned the following year for E3 2013, once again featuring previews of multiple games, and a quest where players could earn a number of rewards. PlayStation Home did not feature a virtual E3 booth in 2014.

On April 20, 2011, Home released version 1.50, which dramatically improved the physics and graphics engines.[37][38][39] Sodium 2: Project Velocity was also released.[37]

In November 2011, a new area known as the "Hub" was released, featuring a variety of games, including Cogs from Lazy 8 Studios. The Hub also featured a new "Activity Board" and a new "User Generated Content" events system. Surrounding the Hub are districts based on game genres to suit users’ moods.[40][41] Users can also now watch full length movies for free as an effort by online video distributor Crackle via Sony Pictures Loot. The movies are available on all Loot Entertainment on Demand (EOD) screens.[42]

In August 2014 Sony Computer Entertainment Japan announced that it was shutting down the service in Japan and other Asian territories.[43] After September, no items will be sold, and the service will shut down in March 2015.[43] The announcement only pertains to Asian territories. European and North America versions of the service will still continue running.[43]

Operation

PlayStation Home's point of view runs from a third person perspective. Upon entering Home, users are greeted with the "Message of the Day" containing Home news. During loading screens, users are presented with help tips on how to use Home.

User interface

PlayStation Home has no on-screen interface during exploration; however, all of Home's features are available from the controller. Options include "Quick Chat", a gestures menu, the "Menu" and "Safe" screens, and an in-game XMB. Sony originally planned to allow users to play videos and music stored on their hard drives on virtual screens and stereos. However, these features were never implemented, as Sony was not able to resolve potential licensing issues.[44]

The "Menu Screen" (formerly referred to as the Menu Pad, and before that, a virtual PSP during the pre-open beta) is laid out similar to the PS3's XMB. There are seven categories on the menu, which are Navigator, Personal, Social, Wardrobe, Redecorate, Options, and Help. The Personal category features an inventory, which contains a user's portable objects, as well as any companions that can follow the user around (such as a pet dog). The Personal category also lets users see their purchased items, rewards, downloads, and their PSN profile. The Social category lets users see their friends' locations, group activities, game launching events, the message of the day, and news.

Users can take screenshots of Home in either first or third person view and save them to their PS3's hard drive. With the use of Loot's Active Duty Camera (a premium item), users can also record videos in Home while in personal spaces or clubs. In time, some items may have a limited quantity before repurchase.[45]

The "Safe Screen" is used for reporting, changing communication settings, and quick access to the user's personal space and XMB friends list. The Navigator (formerly known as the World Map) is also laid out like the XMB, and sorts locations into categories based on the space's purpose.

Communication

Users can communicate in a variety of ways in Home. Along with the existing PSN messaging system, users are able to write text messages to each other using either a physical or on-screen keyboard. These messages appear in speech bubbles over the avatar's head and in a chat log. Users can switch between text chat and voice chat from within the chat log. Voice chat, with the use of a headset, is available within personal spaces and clubs, or on private voice chat channels with groups of up to eight users. The user can also perform visible gestures (or "e-motes") such as waving, nodding, or dancing.[46] A "quick chat" feature, with predetermined phrases, is also available. Users can also indicate the emotional status of their avatar, which is displayed below their name. Some avatar costumes also have additional e-motes.

Economy

Although the service itself can be used free of charge, premium content is available to purchase from various stores in the shopping complex and in certain spaces. Users browse and pay for items, such as virtual clothing and furniture, by accessing a shop and using its PlayStation Store interface. Items are paid for with real currency using funds from the user's PlayStation Network Wallet.[47][48] Alongside content designed by Sony Computer Entertainment, other companies are also able to sell virtual goods through their own stores in Home. For example, Diesel, Ligne Roset, and Game are represented in Home with their own stores where users can purchase virtual items based on each company's own clothing and furniture designs.[49]

Advertising is prominent in Home's public spaces. Currently, advertisements are focused on PlayStation-related content, although other video gaming-related brands are also represented. Most advertising is targeted to specific regional audiences.[14]

In a future update, the full PlayStation Store will become accessible through Home, along with virtual TV, radio, and media playback.[50]

Pre-order bonuses

To advertise games in the North American Home, Sony has released pre-order bonuses for PS3 games, mainly from Amazon.com. The first Home pre-order bonus was for the PS3-exclusive Killzone 2. Users in the North American Home who pre-ordered Killzone 2 from Amazon.com received free additional costumes for their avatar.[51] On February 16, 2009, if users located a Helghast soldier in the North American Home, they were granted access to the Killzone 2 demo.[52] Other Amazon.com pre-orders bonuses were given for inFamous ("Reaper" costume[53]), Darksiders ("Ruin Head Mask" and "War Armor"[54]), MAG ("S.V.E.R. Barracks" personal space), and BioShock 2 ("Big Daddy" costume[55]).

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time also received a pre-order bonus from Game Crazy. Users who pre-ordered the "Space Package" for the game received a PlayStation Home Avatar Skin.[56]

Total Game Integration

Total Game Integration (TGI) is Home's unique way of promoting upcoming PS3 games that include Home pre-order bonuses from Amazon.com. Instead of pre-ordering directly from Amazon.com, users can pre-order the promoted game from within PlayStation Home to receive Home and/or in-game bonuses. The first game to utilise the Total Game Integration was Killzone 3, with the bonus being the "Helghast Jetpack".[57] The second TGI pre-order that redesigned the Central Plaza was the "Exploding Zombie Outfit" for Dead Island[58] The next TGI pre-order, a "Nathan Drake" costume, was for Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. This TGI pre-order featured a Game Space called "Fortune Hunter", specifically designed for the Total Game Integration. The mini-game utilised the entire space which was a partial recreation of the Yemen level from the Uncharted 3 multiplayer.[59] The most recent TGI pre-order bonus, "Boost Gem Trial Pack 1", was for Street Fighter X Tekken. For the first time in Home history, users were able to brawl using their Home avatars and could unlock Ryu and Kazuya costumes (which allow users to throw fireballs and perform custom jump kick attacks) by completing all 10 SFxTK challenges. A portion of The Hub was redesigned for this TGI.[60]

The vouchers for the Amazon.com pre-order bonuses are sent out within ten days after the games release and expire 90 days after the games release. The European and Japanese versions of Home also had chances to get these pre-order bonuses as well, but through different pre-order promotions and events.

PlayStation Home TV

On December 23, 2009, SCEE launched PlayStation Home TV to the European Home, with news and event information. If users have a community event they think should be featured in Home TV, or any other news, they can email Home TV. New episodes of Home TV are released monthly and are featured in the Home theatre.[61]

Avatar and personal spaces

Users are given an avatar and an apartment which they can personalise with their own choice of decor and furnishings. The user's avatar is the means of travel and communication, while personal spaces and clubs are means of expressing themselves and meeting new people and friends.

Avatar

Users can create their own avatar or use one of several preset avatars available.[62] Users may customise a variety of their avatar's features, which include gender, skin tone, hair, body shape, and facial structure. They may also customise their avatar's clothing and accessories using a set of standard items that may be obtained from a variety of places, including the clothing shops in Home's shopping complex, items won from Home's mini-games, or PS3 games that support Home rewards.

Users can access their wardrobe from the Menu Screen at any time and location, except when in another user's personal apartment. The wardrobe contains two sections: one is the main wardrobe for frequently used items (capacity of 500), and the other is a storage section for less frequently used items. New items are marked accordingly. Users can also filter the wardrobe view to only display favourite, purchased, rewards, or recently acquired items.

A PlayStation Home avatar in the Harbour Studio personal space.

Personal spaces

Each user has a personal space which they can modify and change suitably. The initial basic apartment, the Harbour Studio, is free and offers users limited options for customisation and personalisation. Users may invite any other Home user (even cross-region, unless space is region locked) to their personal space.[63] Some personal spaces, such as the PlayStation Home Mansion, have a built-in TV that plays content from PlayStation (such as PlayStation.Blog). Loot Entertainment's personal spaces have a variety of content that can be played on their Entertainment on Demand (EOD) screens.[42] More audio and video options may be enabled in the future.[64] Users can also place their own digital photographs in picture frames to display on the wall of their apartment.[65] While the Harbour Studio and basic furniture is provided to all users free of charge, premium personal spaces and some furniture can be bought from stores. Other ways to obtain furniture, decorative ornaments, or even entire personal spaces include winning mini-games in Home and from playing certain PS3 games that support Home rewards.

Premium personal spaces are available from the Home Estates store in Home's shopping complex. Sony has released many premium personal spaces for Home, from both first party and third party developers. Various premium apartments are available to all of the regions; however, some are region exclusive. The first premium personal space released was the Summer House. Loot's Sunset Yacht (formerly Amaterasu Yacht) personal space was the first personal space to allow users to set the mood of the setting (e.g. sunrise, sunset, day, night). In addition to the standard features of personal spaces, Loot's Space Apartment also allows users to view Twitter feeds from a ticker, and to search for photos from their Flickr account and display them on photo screens.[66]

PS3 games can also have premium spaces dedicated to them. For example, the Visari Throne Room is based on Visari's Throne Room from the last level of Killzone 2.[67]

Sony has also provided the opportunity to receive free apartments. The Chamber Apartment was the first and was only available in May 2009 in the North American Home.[68][69]

The PlayStation Home Mansion (North America and Europe)[70] is Home's first expandable personal space.

Blueprint: Home is a personal space designer tool which allows users to create, build, and save up to five of their own personalized apartments. With a variety of different style packs, users can craft their own personalized apartment, ranging from 60 square metres to 25 rooms. Users can move their apartment to various places, ranging from a country field to the top of a skyscraper. Users can also add rooms, doors, windows, wallpaper, flooring, ceilings, feature objects, exteriors, skies, and environments.[71] Blueprint: Home was developed by nDreams and released on August 1, 2012 in Europe and North America.[72]

Clubhouse

Users are able to purchase and form clubs. There are currently four clubhouse designs available to purchase – the Basic Clubhouse, the Desert Haven,[66] nDream's War Room Clubhouse,[60] and the Crystal Seashores Clubhouse.[73] Each club has a leader, who is the user who purchased the club. The leader can elect up to 4 sub-leaders and can have up to 32 members in total, including the owner. A user can only be a member of up to five clubs, including the club that the user may be the leader of. Though the user can own multiple clubhouse designs, they can only be the leader of one club and can decide which clubhouse design will be used as the meeting place for their club. In a similar way to personal spaces, the club's owner is able to set up and decorate a private clubhouse as a meeting point for club members, and the club members can enter the clubhouse at any time. The clubhouses also feature a notice board where the leader or sub-leaders can post messages and announcements to other members. Japan's Basic Clubhouse's video screen has the option to access a Home member's page after they've entered their PSN information.[74] Users can block other users from being a member of their club. In addition to all the standard features of the clubhouses, the War Room Clubhouse helps club owners or sub-leaders get their message across during club meetings or discussions. It also includes a special access point allowing users to teleport from the War Room to other set locations

On December 2, 2010, a free exclusive club released for PlayStation Plus subscribers in Europe. The PlayStation Plus Private Members Club[75] is a bar area with several tables and a two-to-four player card game with special rewards. The space also has Plus news, accessed reviewing a cocktail menu or watching the trailers running on an in-game video screen. On April 11, 2012, a new club called the "x7 Club" was released in North America, and can only be accessed by Plus subscribers, or users who have purchased one of the select Home exclusive items. All x7 members get special discounts, free items, and early access to select content before it gets released to the public. The club features a dance floor and a mini-game called FLIRT.[76]

Stage Sets

Stage Sets are premium personal spaces where users who have a video capture system can make their own machinimas.[77][78] Loot has released four different Stage Sets for users to create and film their own machinimas with, and has provided various tools within the Stage Set (e.g. lighting and props) to help the users create their own machinimas. Loot also has an array of items available at their Loot store in the shopping complex.[79]

Public Spaces

Home consists of various locations for players to interact and participate in activities, which are produced by both Sony Computer Entertainment and various third parties. Spaces on the Navigator are broken up into categories based on each space's publisher and/or purpose. Spaces' names and availability vary based on the user's location.

There are four different versions of Home, which are based on four regions: Asia, Europe, Japan, and North America. Countries join whichever Sony Computer Entertainment division they are under. Japan is the only country with its own version of Home. SCEHK operates the Asian Home, SCEE operates the European Home, SCEJ operates the Japanese Home, and SCEA operates the North American Home. The different regions' Home environments have similar and different features between each other.

Core Spaces

The Hub; North America's new central meeting point as of November 3, 2011 featuring Cogs at the centre.

The Core Spaces are the spaces made by Sony Computer Entertainment specifically for the Home environment, and serve as the central meeting point for users. These are the main spaces of Home and are updated the most. They are also where most events occur. These spaces include a central meeting point; a bowling alley and gaming arcade; a shopping complex; a café; various game, developer, and company spaces; the PlayStation Events spaces; and the districts.

The Home Square (Europe,[80] Asia,[81] and Japan) or "The Hub" (North America[41]) is Home's central meeting point where users commonly meet and chat. It connects all of th Core Spaces together, and is where much of the advertising occurs. There are five distinct districts for specific game genres. Europe's Home Square and The Hub feature a "districts design" to access the districts. They also feature an "Activity Board" allowing users to access reward giving quests, which may include users having to visit various places and/or play various mini-games.

List of districts

  • Action District – Action District is reminiscent of a first-person shooter level providing access to action and horror games. From the Action District, users can access the game Bootleggers '29, the Dead Island Total Game Integration, and Novus Prime.
  • Sportswalk – Sportswalk features instant major league sports scores, headlines and highlights, and sports-themed games. It features PlayStation Home Hold' em tables (and access to its space), as well as PlayStation Home Sports Trivia.
  • Adventure District – Adventure District features adventure-themed games. It features a jungle with tropical areas to explore, including an ancient temple, a coastal shoreline and a beachfront bar. The space also serves as an access point for the game Cutthroats: Battle for Black Powder Cove.
  • Pier Park (North America only) - Pier Park is a waterfront boardwalk with a carnival, puzzle, outdoor and arcade games. Users can ride a ferris wheel with other users, access the RC Rally space, and dance at the dance zone, which is reminiscent of the "Listen@Home" kiosk that was featured in the former "Central Plaza". "Indie Park" and the "Theater Lobby" can be accessed from Pier Park.
  • Indie Park – Indie Park allows users to access various mini-games showcasing various indie developers. This zone allows indie developers to showcase their work.

Other Core Spaces

  • Home Theatre[82] (Asia, Europe, and Japan), or Theater Lobby (North America) – A virtual cinema where users can view a range of video content such as film trailers, game trailers, video game features from first-party (such as Qore) and third-party publishers (such as Eurogamer), full-length TV shows, and podcasts from various gamer organisations. The Theatre Lobby also features a shop where users can purchase film related clothes and other items, as well as play the mini-game, Scribble Shooter.[83]
  • Bowling Alley (Europe[84] and North America[85]) or the Game Space (Asia[86] and Japan) – A space that contains social mini-games such as 10-pin bowling and pool billiards. It also features a variety of arcade-machine games including Echochrome. Prizes are awarded for beating the arcade-machine games. The Game Space also features dart boards, as well as arcades from the Namco Museum.comm PSN downloadable game.
  • Shopping Centre (Europe[87]), Mall 1st Floor/2nd Floor (North America[85]), or Shopping Mall (Asia[88] and Japan) – The core space where the majority of purchases are made. The shopping complex allow users to buy new clothes, accessories, premium locations (personal spaces or clubs), and other items. Purchases use PlayStation Network Wallet funds, and work in a manner similar to the PlayStation Store. The shopping complex features various stores for specific products, a video screen, advertising posters, and a place to play chess. All stores can be accessed from the Navigator.
  • Home Café (Asia[81] and Japan), the Gamer's Lounge (North America), or the PlayStation Vita Lounge (Europe) – A two-story virtual café.[89] The space has featured "developer talks" about certain games.[90] The Gamer's Lounge is also the host space for the Featured Game nights in North America. The Home Café for Japan has been remodelled as the "Music Café" and features the first floor as a "Sound Space” and the second floor as a "Gallery Space" displaying various Sony entertainment products and a Questionnaire with rewards.[91] The PlayStation Vita Lounge features trailers and information on the PS Vita and its launch titles and will be updated with quests.[92]
  • Hong Kong/Korea/Singapore/Taiwan Lounge (Asia only) – Unlike other pan-Asia spaces such as the Home Square, this lounge is exclusive to users of the same region only. Users can come here to find out about country-exclusive events and news.

PlayStation Events Space

The PlayStation Events Space[93] opens to the public during special events. This space consists of five known spaces – Events Landing, The Gallery, the Presentation Podium, The Backstage Pass, The Observatory, and the PlayStation Network Sphere – and is a venue for special events, announcements, and parties.

Game Spaces

Sony Computer Entertainment and various third parties can create dedicated "Game Spaces" for specific games. These spaces generally depict a level of the game itself and have mini-games or interactions related to the game. There are over forty Game Spaces that have been released for Home. These Game Spaces vary depending on the region the user is in.

Game Developer Spaces

The EA Sports Complex Red Poker Room.

Video game developers are able to create "Developer Spaces" for their developing company to showcase their products in Home.[94] These spaces act similarly to Game Spaces except they are not for a specific game. These spaces generally have mini-games related to their company or games and offer a wide range of content for purchase based on their company. Currently, twelve game developers have made Game Developer Spaces for Home.[citation needed]

Non-gaming Company Spaces

Non-gaming-related companies can also create sponsored "Company Spaces" for Home.[95] These also act similarly to Game Spaces but are specifically made to sponsor the company's products.

The first company to do this was Red Bull with their Red Bull Space, which released on January 8, 2009 for Europe and North America and features the Red Bull Air Race mini-game.[96] The Air Race is a virtual version of the real-life event. On November 26, 2009, Red Bull released two new spaces for Europe and North America, one for the Red Bull Illume and the other for the Red Bull Flugtag. The Illume space has an exhibition of action and adventure sports photographs from Red Bull Illume. The winning photograph from each of the competition's ten categories is displayed on large illuminate cubes, imitating the real-life exhibit. The Red Bull Beach space has the Red Bull Flugtag mini-game where users can compete against one another by launching one of five flying machines off of a 30-foot high deck to try and achieve flight. It also features a Red Bull Jukebox with ten different tunes from Red Bull.[97] All three of the Red Bull spaces were released to the Asian Home on June 17, 2010. On January 5, 2012, Red Bull released their first personal space for Home, the Red Bull House of Skate, which features an indoor skate park.[98]

Phil Harrison stated that locations built around famous coffee, drinks, clothing, and record companies, along with major retailers and other such companies could feature content depending on the company's desire to create Home content.

Game launching

Game launching is a feature in Home which allows users to launch PS3 games while in Home. There are two types of game launching: full and simplified. Full game launching support allows users to organise and start multi-player games with other Home users, who may or may not be on their friends lists. Users can set up a full game launching session by going into their menu screen, selecting "Game Launching", and setting up a session with advanced options. They can also join an existing session. When users have set up a game that is ready to launch, the name of the game and how many players have joined the session is shown under the users' names above their avatar's head. By using the game launching feature, users are entered directly into the game, bypassing the normal title screen. After the match ends, users can either quit the game and be returned to their XMB, or they can quit the game and be returned to Home.

Simplified game launching, also known as universal game launching, was implemented with Core Client update v1.30 and allows any PS3 game to be launched from Home. With simplified game launching, users can insert a game into their PS3 while in Home and follow the on-screen directions. Users have a limited number of options to select with simplified game launching. For instance, they cannot choose what map or level they want, nor can they choose what settings for the map or level within Home. Users must do that after the game has been launched. The name of the game and how many users have joined the session is also shown under the users' names above the avatars' heads.

User-generated content

User-generated content for Home is slowly being implemented. In time, Home may have a greater ability for user-generated content, but under strict moderation.[99] Picture frames are the first feature to support user-generated content with photo sharing. The inFamous Game Space also supports user-generated content by allowing users to create their own unique graffiti designs in the graffiti mini-game and save it to their PS3s HDD to display for their friends. Users will soon be able to create their own apartments with nDreams' Blueprint: Home.

On October 16, 2009, Rockstar Games began having "Beaterator Parties" at the Listen@Home station in North America's former Central Plaza. Beaterator is a PSP game that allows users to mix their own music and produce their own loops. During Beaterator sessions, Rockstar Games played Beaterator tracks that users had uploaded to the Rockstar Games Social Club.[100]

The newest ability for user-generated content is nDreams's Blueprint: Home, which is a personal space designer tool that allows users to create, build, and save up to five of their own personalized apartments.[72]

Games

PlayStation Home is a host for several games, exclusive to PlayStation Home. In October 2009, Jack Buser announced that PlayStation Home has developed into a "game platform, first and foremost." Since then, several PlayStation Home exclusives have been released. The first game was Xi, which was released before the change in development to a gaming platform. The more prominent PlayStation Home exclusive games include:

Xi

Xi (UK /ˈs/ or US /ˈz/) was the world's first console-based and virtual world-based alternate reality game. The game was an adventure that took place in a series of secret areas in Home that changed frequently. The goal of the game was to help find "Jess" and the meaning of the letter Xi by collecting fragments and butterflies.[101] The game also involved the users to search for clues in the real world.[102] This game was created by nDreams who released several spaces for Xi.

The Xi Museum features an updated Xi Alumni Hub, the three Alpha Zone 1 spaces (Game Test Area, Maximum-Tilt Lobby, and Adventure Lobby), and four Alpha Zone 3. In addition, the Xi Museum now features a Xi Museum Shop, with items such as a Maximum-Tilt bike and the robot Stapler for users’ personal spaces. Users can now purchase the public space "Party at Jess's Apartment" that was featured during Xi.[103]

Sodium

Sodium[104] is the first Home based massively multiplayer online game released on December 17, 2009 to the European and North American versions of Home[31] and on June 17, 2010 to the Japanese version. This game was developed by Outso and published by Lockwoood Publishing, and is the first part of a four-game series for Home. Like in Xi, there is a space for the game that can be accessed through the Navigator. The space is called the "Sodium Hub" and features the Salt Shooter Game. The first five levels are entirely free, while additional levels and experiences can be unlocked with the purchase of virtual items. New games, virtual items, and community events will continually be added.

Sodium 2: Project Velocity was released on June 16, 2011. Unlike its predecessor,Sodium 2 is a completely free to play. The game involves high-speed racing, similar to the Wipeout series of games. Sodium 2 features a single player mode that allows users to hone their skills and progress through the Sodium 2 XP system. Users can complete objectives, earn Sodium Credits, and compete on the world-wide leader board. In addition to single player, Sodium 2 features real-time multiplayer, where users can race against friends or strangers.

The Midway

The Midway is a series of three games developed by Mass Media Inc.

  • The Midway[105] is a carnival-style space released on July 1, 2010 in Europe and North America. The space features ten mini-games with ten rewards for each mini-game, in addition to a free personal space called Darla's Den. Users can purchase a "Gold Ticket" (50 tickets) to have access to all of the games until they're out of tickets. The space also features a random "free-to-play" mini-game that occurs every fifteen minutes, in addition to one specific mini-game (Miz Fortunet) that is free-to-play every five minutes.
  • The Midway 2 was released on December 9, 2010 in Europe and North America and expands on from The Midway. Just like The Midway, it is a carnival-style space and adds ten more mini-games with rewards (including Miz Fortune from "The Midway", with new rewards). The space also features the random free-to-play mini-game, most of which occur every 15 minutes.
  • The Midway 3 was released on May 16, 2012 in Europe and North America and expands on from The Midway and The Midway 2. Just like the first two Midways, this space is a carnival-style space and adds ten more mini-games with rewards (including Miz Fortune from the previous games, with new rewards). Like Midway 2, the space also features the random free-to-play mini-game, most of which occur every 15 minutes.

Along with the release of The Midway 3, Mass Media released a central hub for the Midways called the Hot Zone. The Hot Zone features an air hockey mini-game, a "Redemption Centre" (where users can redeem their Hot Zone points), a Ticket Booth to purchase more tickets for Midways mini-games, access to the three Midways, Darla's Den personal space, and a registration for The Midway Cash Carnival Sweepstakes. Users that play any of the Midways mini-games are entered into the Cash Carnival sweepstakes (open to US citizens only), where users can win weekly prizes from Sony Electronics with a grand prize of $15,000 USD (May 2012 – November 2012).[106]

Novus Prime

Novus Prime is a free-to-play multiplayer game in PlayStation Home developed by Hellfire Games.[107] The game allows users to play missions in either single player or multiplayer cooperative format. Users can form teams of up to four players and embark on missions where they employ weaponry in battles against fleets of enemies.[108] In addition to the Navigator, users can access Novus Prime from the Action District. Novus Prime has received two expansions – Escalation on March 31, 2011[109] and Vindication on January 11, 2012[110] – each adding new missions, weapons, enemies, races, rewards, as well as a personal space. The current version of Novus Prime is v5.5, which was released on April 11, 2012 and added new features and content to the game.[76]

Aurora

Aurora is a game world with challenges and secrets to uncover that will evolve over time with new features, characters, games, and narrative. Aurora features the mini-game "OrbRunner" where users can gain XP and unlock special rewards by defending the isles from enemies. It also features the mini-game "Sky Fishing" where users can sky fish for various items to add to their collection journal. There are also various information points with information about Aurora. Users can also complete the 12 tasks of "Collect-O-Rama", which upon completing will grant the users the "Collect-O-Rama Pack". Another upcoming mini-game is Aurora Defense where users defend the isles of Aurora. Aurora was made by nDreams and was released on March 17, 2011[111]

No Man's Land

No Man’s Land[112] is a multiplayer third-person tactical shooter, featuring a cover-based movement system and 4v4 team battles. The game was developed by VEEMEE and released in North America on June 20, 2012 and in Europe on July 25, 2012.[113] Following the completion of a tutorial session, players are given an introductory loadout that allows access to the game. Armour and weapon upgrades can be purchased from in-game Commerce Points in a variety of combinations, which VEEMEE plans to evolve in time. The game features two modes: Scavengers and Team Deathmatch. Team Deathmatch is a time-limited game mode that involves killing as many enemy players as possible. In the Scavengers game mode, teams must collect salvage packs from the depleted cityscape. These resources are all that are left of the old world. Each team must bring all the salvage to their "salvage dump" before the other team does. Players earn points for placing salvage on their team’s salvage dump, for stealing enemy salvage, and for simply killing the enemy.

Mercia: Fractured Realms

Mercia: Fractured Realms is PlayStation Home's first free-to-play RPG. The game "opens up the possibility for huge worlds and a depth of narrative that have yet to be explored on the platform." It has a detailed XP system and rewards. Players can explore the world and dungeons, fight beasts, collect items, and complete quests. Players can also discover the Guardians who will guide them on their journey. The game was developed by Lockwood Publishing and released on August 30, 2012 in Europe and North America.[114][115]

Home Tycoon

Home Tycoon is Home's first 3D city-building game being developed by Hellfire Games. Home Tycoon, similar to the RollerCoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon games, allows users to create their own city from the ground up, explore it at street level as their own avatar, and share it with friends. The game also features a large variety of story-driven missions and activities, vehicle driving, and over 50 avatar rewards to unlock. Users will assume the role as the newly elected mayor, in which they'll gather resources and broker strategic business deals to kick-start their town's economy. There are over 60 unlockable buildings throughout the game, and users can craft and personalize their city with apartment buildings, luxury homes, public parks, power plants, research hospitals, police stations, and other buildings.[116]

Intellivision Gen2

Intellivision Productions, Inc. announced on September 14, 2012 that it will be bringing three "classic games" from the Intellivision game console to PlayStation Home as Intellivision Gen2, scheduled for Fall 2012.[117] The games featured are Astrosmash, Shark! Shark!, and Night Stalker, which have been upgraded while staying true to the original's looks and game play. The development team stated they are "enhanced yet completely faithful conversions." The developers also stated that they're adding some features that they would have liked to have added in the original versions. Astrosmash Gen2 features more types of UFOs, more pronounced difficulty level progressions, and base weapon power-ups in comparison to the original. With Shark! Shark! Gen2, in addition to players being a fish eating other fish trying try to take down the shark, their food and foes will both swim in a wide variety of new patterns. Night Stalker Gen2 is still filled with bats and spiders, but now it has a greater variety of killer robots, each more challenging to confront, along with a variety of maze structures.

Other games

Other, less prominent PlayStation Home exclusive games include Dragon's Green;[118] fantasy mini-golf game Conspiracy;[119] PlayStation Home's first third-person shooter game Slap Happy Sam;[119] PlayStation Home Hold 'em; Sports Trivia; RC Rally; Bootleggers '29; Cutthroats: Battle for Black Powder Cove; and Clusterpuck.[120]

Events

Home hosts many types of events organised by Home and its affiliated content providers. Live events such as developer interviews, E3, sports, and concerts are broadcast.[121] Special events are generally held at the PlayStation Events Space in-game.

The first events in Home required the users to either answer questions or suggest ideas on the Official PlayStation Home Forums for a chance to win a prize. The prize was generally a $10 USD product voucher for virtual items in the shopping complex. These events were organised by the PlayStation Home Managers.

Some events are used to promote and advertise upcoming films. In 2009 in Europe, there was a treasure hunt occurring in Home to promote the film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.[122]

There are some events in Home where users can win PS3 games. US users in the North American Home had the chance to win the Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Fortune Hunter Edition by entering the Uncharted 2 space between the event times and playing the "Mask Mayhem" mini-game. The user who placed first on the leader board in the Uncharted 2 space received the Fortune Hunter Edition.[123] Users also had three chances during November 2009 to win the Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Fortune Hunter Edition.

The first live-streaming event for PlayStation Home was NASA's final launch of Space Shuttle Discovery. This event occurred on February 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm EST. Users could watch the live stream from their (or their friends) Sunset Yacht (formerly Amaterasu Yacht) personal space.[124]

From July 29 through 31, 2011, the EVO World Finals were streamed live in North America's theatre. This stream was also used to test a new streaming method for Home. Rewards were given each day with the final reward, a virtual replica trophy of the EVO Championship Trophy.[125]

In the European and North American Home, the Home management teams have set up days for users to meet up and launch the featured game of the night. For example, in the North American Home, there was a Resistance 2: SRPA Siege Night, which occurred every Friday from 6 pm PT to 10 pm PT.[126] The North American Home now has a Featured Game Night where online multi-player games have been pre-selected in advance to be featured every night of the month for users to meet up in Home and launch into the featured game of the night.

Security

A variety of potentially offensive words and word combinations are automatically censored in messages that are typed any chat channel, be it public, private, group, or club chat. Users are able to report the inappropriate or offensive behavior of other users to moderators by accessing the PlayStation Home Safe Screen.[127] Moderators review these reports periodically, and may take action against a user's account based on the type and severity of the offense. A very limited number of "live" moderators also patrol PlayStation Home, and may take action against users immediately. These moderators are invisible to other users, and typically will not type in public chat. Suspensions and bans are made against a user's PSN account, and restrict their ability not only to use PlayStation Home, but any other online service on PSN. Users are also able to change their communication settings to block or mute messages from users who are not on their friends list.

Updates

PlayStation Home undergoes weekly maintenance on Wednesdays (formerly Thursdays), which comes with weekly content updates that may include new spaces, games, or items. The core updates provide bug fixes and expand the social and gameplay aspects of Home. The beta has received several updates that included giving the users the ability to access the patio of their Harbour Studio,[128] to access the 'Menu Pad', and to access the shopping complex. Other features, such as weather, and seasons, have yet to be released. After location-affecting updates, the location must be re-downloaded. Content updates do not affect the version number, while core client updates affect the version number.

Key version updates

  • Version 1.03 was the first open beta version and was released on December 11, 2008.[129] The Home icon automatically appeared under the PlayStation Network category on the XMB.
  • Version 1.50, released on April 20, 2011, introduced real-time multiplayer, improved physics and graphics, and greater control over collision detection as part of a suite of new technology that developers can use to create connected gaming experiences.[39] Also with v1.5 are more avatar save slots (24), new facial building features, better furniture management, various graphical tweaks to the Navigator, improved object placement options within the personal space, and increased chat log options.[37][130]
  • Version 1.60, released on December 8, 2011, increased furniture limit in personal spaces and clubhouses from 50 to 100 items, allowing 4 active items to be placed. The update also improved targeting in personal spaces. Portable items and companions were made to automatically reactivate after entering and leaving games and spaces. A new help system was also introduced to help beginners. The 3-minute inactivity timeout for arcade games was removed, along with the "Community" option under Options in the Menu Pad. Additional tools were also added for developers to enable them to make better games.[131]
  • Version 1.65, released on April 25, 2012, replaced the Menu Pad with a new simplified Menu Screen, added adjustments to the furniture slot memory, enhanced visual display of available memory use, and added a new Voice Chat system that replaced the personal call function. Alerts were also made to integrate better, and the ability to shop from the Wardrobe was added. The cross-game invite system has been expanded, and the stability of real time games was improved.[132]
  • Version 1.70, released on September 12, 2012, included new features for the camera (an added e-mote), changes to commerce to make it easier to shop, and new functionality for animated portable items. New improvements include an update to the ignore and block function, a new private message sound effect, and general stability improvements.[2]
  • Version 1.86, released March 12, 2014, included the addition of trophies.

Room for PlayStation Portable

Room for PSP, a cancelled service that was to be similar to PlayStation Home, was in development for the PlayStation Portable.[133] Officially spelled as R∞M, it was being beta-tested in Japan. It was to be added to the PSP in an update and could have been launched directly from the PlayStation Network section of the XMB. Just like in Home, PSP owners would have been able to invite other PSP owners into their rooms to "enjoy real time communication."[134] A closed beta test began in Q4 2009 in Japan.[135] Development of Room halted on April 15, 2010.[136]

PlayStation Home Arcade

PlayStation Home Arcade is an application for the PlayStation Vita featuring games that were previously only available as arcade cabinets inside PS Home. Once purchased, games can be used on either platform at no additional cost. Icebreaker, WipEout 2D, and a demo of Scribble Shooter are included with the application for free.[137]

Games

Title Release Date
Icebreaker February 5, 2013
WipEout 2D February 5, 2013
Scribble Shooter February 5, 2013
Frogger February 5, 2013
Time Pilot February 5, 2013
Asteroids February 5, 2013
Centipede February 5, 2013
Astrosmash Gen2 February 5, 2013
Shark! Shark! Gen2 February 5, 2013
Mad Blocker February 5, 2013

See also

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External links