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PlayStation Home no longer a priority for Sony?

Business Models, MMO Industry, Virtual Worlds, Home, PlayStation Home

Opinions on PlayStation Home seem to differ -- it doesn't have the kind of flexibility and user created content that's made Second Life successful, but it does provide social spaces and content linked to the games and other media we enjoy. For others, like writers at our parent site Joystiq, it's a brave new virtual world where the fine art of Quincying can thrive.

Now that PlayStation Home has gained some traction with its install base and users are making microtransaction purchases, does Sony intend to develop the marketplace further? Not immediately, according to PlayStation Home's Pete Edwards. Edge Online quotes Edwards, speaking at the London Games Conference this week: "It's been a long road. We've proved there is a market out there and we've got a lot of people that spend a lot of time in [Home]. It's not a priority right now but there is a business model there."

[Via G4tv's The Feed]

The Daily Grind: Do you use PlayStation Home?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Consoles, Virtual Worlds, Home

Now here's an odd question that could only be thought up at 8 in the morning. If you own a PS3, are you an avid user of PlayStation Home, or do you avoid the console's virtual world like the plague?

We ask because the world seems to present two very different versions of itself. On one hand, some of the mini-games are kinda interesting, the virtual environment does take full advantage of the PS3's graphical capabilities, and the virtual spaces for the different PS3 games are kinda cool.

However, on the flip side, you get to deal with the worst of the PlayStation Network community while you can't completely remove them from your screen. If you make a female avatar, get ready to get swamped by every guy in a 30 virtual mile radius no matter how you're dressed.

So tell us why or why not you use Home, and don't be afraid to give us all of the gritty details. Go readers, go!

E3 2009: A complete roundup of Massively's coverage

Jumpgate Evolution, MMO Industry, New Titles, The Agency, All Points Bulletin, Global Agenda, Free Realms, Interviews (Massively's), Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), Champions Online, Home, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dragonica Online, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV

Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009 proved to be a significant event for the gaming industry once again, with a fair amount of news and announcements related to MMOs. Massively was there on the ground for E3 this year and we've been putting up breaking announcements, interviews, and hands-on previews throughout.

Given how much info came out of E3 on Massively, here's a roundup of our coverage, day-by-day. Be sure to check out the rest after the jump as there's plenty more content, plus you'll find E3 galleries for these games as you click through. To cap it all off, we've also put together an E3 2009 wrapup video for you at the end of this post. Read on to see where the MMO industry is headed in the next year and beyond!

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E3 2009: Massively's day 1 roundup

Jumpgate Evolution, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, All Points Bulletin, Events (Massively's Coverage), Home, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV

E3 2009 is turning out to be quite a show this year and Massively is right in the middle of it all to report on the MMO news. We got a head start on E3 and reported a bit on what's happening before the Expo officially kicked off and it looks like we'll have plenty more to share with you before E3 is over. Here's our recap of day 1 in MMO news from Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009, and be sure to click through to the E3 galleries we've got after the jump.

Boatloads of screenshots after the jump!

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E3 2009: Sony says Playstation Home holds 6.5 million accounts

At a glance, Business Models, MMO Industry, Consoles, Virtual Worlds, Home

In addition to all of the games Sony has been showing at their press conference today, Sony released some impressive numbers for their Playstation Home service, revealing they now hold 6.5 million accounts and the Home service sports an 85% return rate for users. The 6.5 million accounts is impressive, but the 85% return rate is a vague, empty number that we're not quite sure what it means.

To further expand their plans for Home, Sony will be introducing over 100 new virtual items each month, as over 100,000 items related to Capcom and Resident Evil were sold two months after their introduction. Future game spaces will include areas for inFAMOUS, Buzz! and Socom, with EA, Ubisoft, Activision, Namco, and Eidos jumping on the game space bandwagon with their support.

Checking in on PlayStation Home

Business Models, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Virtual Worlds, Home

Eurogamer attended Jack Buser's GDC talk "Developer opportunities in PlayStation Home" and came back with some pretty interesting stats on Sony's virtual world. While early reviews of the service were negative, Home seems to be enjoying a pretty large user base, if only due to its ubiquity.

Buser, Director of PlayStation Home in the U.S., claims that over 5 million people are using the service worldwide, with 2.2 million in North America. Additionally, visitors spend over 40 minutes per session in the world. He went on to say Sony plans to create, at minimum, three new "spaces" - Sony-built areas often used for promotional purposes - for inhabitants to explore each month.

Whether or not critics like the service, it appears Sony is invested in Home, at least for the medium term.

Despite 3.4 million downloads, PlayStation Home announced too early

Business Models, Interviews, Virtual Worlds, Home

The new virtual world we've written about at Massively, PlayStation Home, seems to have garnered itself a large user base despite getting off to a rocky start. Kaz Hirai of Sony Computer Entertainment mentioned in his Consumer Electronics Show speech that 3.4 million PlayStation 3 users have downloaded Home. It was, however, announced too early according to key members of the Home team in an interview with Develop.

Announcing Home back at the 2007 Game Developer's Conference had the effect of stoking the interest of third parties (not to mention gamers and virtual world residents), but there was no where to run with their projects, given the early stage of Home's development at that time. Indeed, Home's Game Director Peter Edward feels that initially some developers were reluctant to get involved, but that situation is beginning to change. Edward says, "The feedback we've been getting is that, in the early days, it was a bit thin on the ground in terms of support and tools, but now it's mature and everybody's starting to produce some really interesting stuff."

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Home's virtual items rake in more than movies

Economy, News Items, Opinion, Home

While Sony's virtual-environment multiplayer matchmaker and social space Home (presently in open beta) is getting something of a padding by the media, it's mostly a case of the dog being paddled for not being a cat. Most of the criticisms seem to revolve around Home not being something it wasn't designed or intended to be.

Despite all of this, the reported exploits, assorted bad user behavior, concomitant censorship and complaints about the advertising, virtual item sales -- clothing and accessories for avatars -- are reportedly going quite strongly, particularly when compared to the sales of movies within the service.

That really begs the question, though, if you can't make movies compelling in the living-room, then you're probably doing something wrong. However, allowing people complex interactions via their avatars and allowing customization, seems to make clothes horses even of the boys.

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Exploits for Sony's Home?

Betas, Bugs, Exploits, New Titles, News Items, Consoles, Rumors, Home

The Telegraph (UK) is reporting that a number of exploits have surfaces for Sony's virtual-environment multiplayer matchmaker and social space, Home, presently in open beta. Not all of them are technically exploits, but they'd certainly qualify as hacks -- using Apache and DNS trickery to fool the Home client into loading different content for local display than what was originally intended, for example.

The Telegraph says there are far more severe hacks, however, such as downloading, uploading or deleting any file to or from the Home server itself. That stopped us cold right there, and is a surprising revelation considering the usual effort that goes into any console offering. Our sister site PS3 Fanboy picked up the rumors initially. We're wondering if the Telegraph is just running on those fumes, or if they've obtained additional verification.

Perhaps the routine of downloadable updates and console hard-drives made developers lazy and short-circuited previously rigorous QA procedures. We'll be interested to see which.

Home open beta tomorrow, December 11

Betas, Launches, Virtual Worlds, Home

Sony's virtual world Home for the Playstation 3 will become available tomorrow, December 11. While it's labeled as an Open Beta, users can play around with the basic features and services in Home, free of charge. And of course, Home is a free download as well. While most of us were sound asleep, our friends over at the Joystiq mothership got the full story on Home opening its doors to PS3 users worldwide, early this morning.

What can we expect from Home? Well, Snow Crash it's not, but there will be a fair amount of branded content and activities to start with from the likes of Diesel, Ligne Roset, and Red Bull, to name just a few companies already establishing a presence in Home. Throw game and film companies into the mix, which Sony states is happening, and Home could prove to be interesting. In fact, in the words of Sony Europe's Director of Home, Daniel Hill, "Home will live or die on the strength of its content." Hill was speaking at a media event in London, which Joystiq also covered this morning along with their hands-on with Home.

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Expanding choices in social gaming and Flash MMOs

Second Life, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Home, Whirled

There seems be an endless tide of online games and virtual worlds being made available to us, with more always on the way. Some of them are well-known and need little introduction, such as Second Life, Playstation Home, and Facebook games, to name just a few. But there's plenty more out there, some of which falls into the standard 'MMO' category, although it's a label that we find is steadily blurring as time goes on.

Darren Gladstone, Senior Writer at PC World, has put together "The Social Gaming Guide" for his Casual Friday column. In it he explores some of the mainstays of social gaming like the options found within Second Life and Facebook, but also sheds light on some lesser known alternatives. Gladstone discusses some of the choices gamers have with The Casual Collective, which he describes as "a cool casual-gaming waterhole created by the minds behind DTD," or Desktop Tower Defense. He looks at Whirled, an open-source gaming community which is home to Flash MMOs. "For players, Whirled is an awesome collection of hundreds of games, broken out by category and just waiting for you to jump in," Gladstone writes. Forthcoming Facebook integration will also add more dimensions to gameplay at Whirled.

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Sony's Home and Microsoft's Avatar draw unwarranted comparisons at TGS

Betas, New Titles, Opinion, Second Life, Consoles, Virtual Worlds, Home

From Chiba, Japan, AP reports on Sony and Microsoft's upcoming avatar-based offerings at the annual Tokyo Game Show. Associated Press goes to great lengths to avoid spooking what they seem to feel are a parochial and hidebound audience with gems like, 'In the so-called "metaverse" in cyberspace, players manipulate digital images called "avatars" that represent themselves, engaging in relationships, social gatherings and businesses.'

Of course, the notion of graphical avatars as a part of a wide variety of Internet services has persisted for most of the last two decades, but even the sense of this is backwards.To the casual and uninformed observer it might appear that the user manipulates this (ahem) 'digital image' to perform actions, but this is substantively not the case. The user moves or takes action through the virtual environment in relation to spaces and to other users, and the avatar represents the action to others.

It's just that sort of long-arm punditry that seems to make AP compare Sony's Home and Microsoft's Avatar service with Linden Lab's Second Life, despite Sony and Microsoft's respective services having about as much in common with Second Life, as they have with Mortal Kombat. 'The real-time interactive computer-graphic worlds are similar to Linden Lab's "Second Life,"' writes the AP correspondent, in a wondrously surreal moment.

Are you a part of the most widely-known collaborative virtual environment or keeping a close eye on it? Massively's Second Life coverage keeps you in the loop.

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Sony claims PlayStation Home will connect gamers like arcades did in the 80s

Betas, New Titles, Consoles, Virtual Worlds, Home

MTV Multiplayer blog contributor Stephen Totilo took a second look at Sony's Home -- a virtual world community for PlayStation 3 users. He had previously previewed the service at Kotaku and given it low marks. This time, though, he seemed a little more impressed. We're not really sure why he flipped, though. He wasn't very clear about it.

Home features several instanced locations where PS3 users may converse and play minigames such as bowling. There are game specific rooms, like, say, for Warhawk, where users can get tips and such. It's a virtual world, not an MMORPG, but there's something interesting stuff in that preview. Obviously, it's most pertinent if you're a PS3 owner.

During the demo, director Jack Buser suggested that the developers might eventually add non-human character models if the community demands it (but it's not part of the plan at the moment). Most of the preview is about how Home differs from its non-virtual-world competitor: Xbox Live. Buser said he hopes that Home will give users a place to meet other gamers in an environment that's more social than the games themselves. According to him, there hasn't been a good way to do that since the arcades of the 80s.

E308: Updates on PS3's Home

Betas, Galleries, News Items, Consoles, Home

Our sister-sites Joystiq and PS3Fanboy managed to get some new information and pictures for Sony's Home at E3 last week. The biggest piece of news is somewhat disappointing -- public areas in Home are region locked. You can still visit anyone's private area, but outdoor mingling will be restricted.

On the bright side, we are treated to a gallery of the "Game Spaces" for two of the PS3's biggest hits, Warhawk and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. These Game Spaces are decorated with apparel relating to the game's they're based on, and feature interactive elements. Warhawk's room has a sand-table to formulate strategies with friends for an upcoming game. The Uncharted room has a locked door that can be opened after visitors discover a secret code, as well as a platforming mini-game to play.

A non-tester's visit to PS3's Home

Betas, New Titles, Opinion, Consoles, Home

Stephen Totilo (guest-editing at Kotaku this week) recently had a chance encounter with a Playstation 3 running the beta of Home, and managed to spend a short amount of time taking a look around. From his findings, it sounds like there haven't been any earth-shattering updates to the beta, and the areas he visited sound just like the previews from quite a while ago.

Probably the key quote from Totilo is his closing note: "Whatever it needs to make it a hit, I don't think it's in there - yet." It's unlikely that having some other Home residents to hang out with would have made a big difference to his opinion, because really, a few rounds of rudimentary bowling and holding hands while watching trailers doesn't sound like very much fun. We're sure there will be other features by the time open beta kicks off, but it sounds as though progress is pretty slow right now.

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