PS3 Gets Its Own Free 3D Virtual World [+]

Okay, my need for a PlayStation 3 just got a lot more urgent. Before you do anything else, watch the trailer above, which just went up on after being shown at GDC. It shows a PS3 service from Sony called “home,” which is, yes, a free 3D online space where you’ll be able to customize your avatar and your own private home, hang out with other users there and in various common spaces, stream your media into your virtual pad (as in Kaneva), and chat via voice, emotes, short pre-loaded phrases or with a USB keyboard, as well as hook up with other people and follow them into PS3 games. In terms of pushing the metaverse out to the mainstream, this is pretty huge news. And it’s got a great look to it, too. Many thanks to reader Victor Piñeiro of pure west documentaries for sending along the link.

[UPDATE: Our spies at GDC have filed a few more details, which you can read after the jump.]

• beta testing starts April 2007
• virtual real-estate sales [Note: not sure whether this means sales by Sony or between users. I suspect it’s limited to the former.]
• game-dev style building tools
• in-world interactive games
• latest Havok physics
• in-world HD video
• dynamic lighting
• customizable avatars
• VoIP
• downloadable furniture and objects for purchase
• free to PS3 owners


  1. Jerry Paffendorf

    Hahaha, outstanding! I love the oscillations of what people think and say about the consoles. Remember early last year when people thought Nintendo was throwing in the towel with their light hardware and motino controller? Then it came out and was awesome and people thought Sony lost with its expensive heavy hardware system.

    We’ll see where she goes but this looks pretty incredible. The PS3 is the only console system I currently do not have, but I’ll be making sure to get mine too now ASAP. We’ll see what they do on the user-creation side, but remember all those nice Google Sketchup models use Sony’s open COLLADA format. I eagerly look forward to our video game version of the planet!

    People will never plug keyboards into their consoles indeed. Bah. Home looks sooo exciting, and it’s exactly what Xbox 360 is missing. Nintendo can go the 2D road with their Miis, and that should be an excellent test of SL-style 3D worlds vs. Habbo Hotel style 2D worlds.

    Lots to digest. Another “inevitable surprise”.

  2. John Mims, APR

    This could radically change who buys the PS3. As you know about half of the people in Second Life are women. I’m sure the PS3 numbers aren’t anywhere near that. With a social component, I would guess that women and older (30s) might be more likely to purchase the PS3 than another console.

  3. John Swords

    Wow, great catch Mark. Wow. Wow.

    I don’t think people will run out to buy an expensive console just to chat and hang out Second Life / style. But Sony can win this round of the 3D metaverse if they make this available for PC/Mac (dare i say PSP mobile phone hybrid?) and open up APIs for interaction with existing top-notch social web tools like Flickr and Twitter.

  4. FlipperPA Peregrine

    This looks interesting, but I think they’re missing a lot of important features. People have called SL a glorified 3-D chatroom, which I find a bit ridiculous. This application would appear to fit that tag, however (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    (1) The ability to create content. It looks like you can only use stock Sony content. This could get stale very fast. “Game dev style building tools” is far too high a level of entry to have the vast array of content within Second Life. As klunky as the tools can be, they are easy to learn.

    (2) I’d hardly brag about the avatar customization. It looks very minimal, and from the shots, you can’t be a furry / tiny / robot, or anything not resembling a twenty something human. That could be a pro in the business realm, however.

    (3) Great graphics, great physics; hopefully SL will catch up in those departments.

    (4) Is there individual inventory, or are you just downloading from a stock library content? It appears as if it were all stock.

    (5) No scripting language and high level content creations tools undermine the potential for emergent behavior, which is a large portion of what makes Second Life so wonderful.

    Hopefully it will grow and evolve – and it looks gorgeous – but for my two cents, it does look like Sony will own all the I.P. and it will be a closed system; ping me if there’s going to the a PC or Mac version! :)



  5. Lynette Radio

    But can I build my own STUFF? Is there money? SL is more than a 3D chat room, and that is what PS3-Home looks like. Cool as shit though, room for both in my 24 hours I’m sure.

  6. Mark Wallace

    Integration with the Web would be the best thing Sony could do with this. As far as user-created content goes, I’m all for it, but keep in mind that the majority of users of even a place like Second Life are consuming, not creating.

  7. Mark Wallace

    Also, as noted in the post about Kaneva, I think the social consumption of media is a very powerful thing, just as we’ve seen it to be in Second Life.

  8. Ordinal Malaprop

    Let’s remember: this is Sony we are talking about. In other words, the chances of you being able to build whatever you like, own IP rights… pretty much zero. It all looks very nice, but then, so do most Sony products. I’m sure it will be a great place for “virtual chat while dressed like a Soho hipster from a few years ago” though.

  9. Jerry Paffendorf

    Ordinal > Let’s remember: this is Sony we are talking about. In other words, the chances of you being able to build whatever you like, own IP rights… pretty much zero.

    True they have that history, but my feeling is all bets may be off, and almost certainly over time. This looks like it could be a Jurassic Park scenario: wait till people start organizing and asking for things in Home and people start reporting on it, do the dinosaurs escape the fence?

    This has me thinking about the Sony EyeToy too. The next-gen EyeToy features I’ve seen demoed are incredible. Move your body to puppet the avatars, facial expressions, gesture interface, virtual bluescreen, etc. So the camera sits on your TV and eliminates the need for pre-rendered gestures. When you want your avatar to dance, *you* dance. Hoo yea.

    So many other things like that. Remember the PS3 is built to do distributed grid computing between PS3s too. I wonder if all that extra hardware and hardcore tech will pay off with a system like this. And seriously, being a Second Lifer and playing online with the Xbox 360, something like Home is what’s missing from that network of people and media and games.

    Anyway this is all brand new, haven’t even touched it yet, and don’t know anything else besides a few posts and reports. I’m just seeing roadblocks of “never” and “we tried this in the 90s” and stuff like that being burned down all over the metaverse space and at frightening speed currently. We shall see what happens here, but I think probably wiser to start exploring from the possibilities side of things (what happens when there’s user-created content?) than the roadblock side (it’s not there now, or we’ll never own it).

    Still in shellshock mode, systems regulating, but it’s safe to say everyone’s metaverse platform game just got upped? Too exciting.

  10. Ordinal Malaprop

    Well, you know, it _could_ be the next wonderful thing, but I’ve said that before; my image of Sony as a company with fantastic tech people yet diabolical lawyers and strategists is going to take some shifting after, well, everything in recorded history after the Walkman. I’m certainly prepared to give them a chance, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for them to produce a better world. I’d have more hope for the DS, personally.

    Their… unique pricing decisions regarding the PS3 aren’t going to help uptake either, but perhaps that is a matter for another post.

  11. Jerry Paffendorf

    Ordinal, totally agreed. Here’s the thing that seems maybe different to me. In this kind of environment I think it’s much easier for users to influence the company. They’ll literally be “living” or spending time in and making the space. Studying the VW space, I think it’s almost as “predictable” that the users will organize and influence the space out of Sony’s total control (think SL’s “Tax Revolt” milestone) as it is predictable that RMT pops out of any VW with scarcity. We’ll see, and my attitude definitely has a tendency to fall on the “we can influence” side rather than just watching, so that’s how I usually view things, so maybe no surprise from me :).

    Good call, Glitch. And to Bill, I will, I will! :)

  12. Chip Poutine

    Most interesting to me is that the lobby space in the demo movie looks like an airport terminal. I thought I saw Tom Hanks in a tweed suit looking for a sandwich. No wait, it was just a noob.

  13. Trevor F. Smith

    Beautiful. Now if only everyone I would ever want to hang out with had a PS3, was sitting in front of their television most of the time, and didn’t want to build…


  14. Floyd Field

    As a few people have stated before, this is inevitable – but will further fracture the market as other players like Microsoft and IBM get on the bandwagon. One has to wonder how much IBM has taken away from their experience in SL and what they are going to do with it.

    As bad as SOE was in the early EQ days (99-2000), I still didn’t have as much trouble getting support from them as I do from Linden Labs (over a month and many emails/calls about issues in my SIM with no reponse whatsoever). They have practice at dealing with scale that a company like Linden Labs can’t compete with.

    Barriers to entry, complexity, and customer service are key components to determining which way the masses will stampede…it will be interesting!

  15. csven

    After the first reports back in May of 2006, I thought that Nintendo could surprise everyone with the Wii (and said as much), so their success didn’t surprise me; only the speed with which the controller moved to other platforms. However, I’m still unimpressed with Sony’s efforts for the PS3. Sure, the service looks pretty. And it’s free (after you spend $600 for the device). And it ties together some multiplayer games in a compelling manner. But a walled garden is *not* the future afaic, no matter how pretty it is. As others here have said, Sony needs to open things up. I have a hard time believing that issue isn’t a source of friction inside Sony. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the hardware people desperate to move product, recover costs and gain economies of scale going toe-to-toe with the entertainment divisions who want to monitor/limit user-created content, promote their *own* properties inside the “Home” social spaces, and keep competitive references to a minimum. That’s not the 3D internet. It’s a fenced-in amusement park. That’s not good enough imo.

    The minute MS provides the same service for the 360, links it to Virtual Earth, the internet and XBox Live, this offering won’t look so great anymore, I’m betting. And when Google does the same thing only using Google Earth, the internet, any and every device that can be hacked and hooked… and then offers XBox and PS3 people tools to link their consoles into the GoogleNet system, it’ll look even less interesting. And then…

    Sorry. I’m not paying $600 for a ball and chain.

  16. Scott McMillin

    Wow, it looks impressive. I was not planning to get a PS3 for a variety of reasons, but this did briefly make me think twice about it. I do have my doubts about this being Sony’s hands, as I feel they’ve really lost their edge in recent years due to reasons outlined above by Ordinal. Memory stick, mini-disc, their constant battle with PSP homebrewers, etc. I don’t have high expectations, but boy does it look nice.

  17. Jerry Paffendorf

    Csven > The minute MS provides the same service for the 360, links it to Virtual Earth, the internet and XBox Live, this offering won’t look so great anymore, I’m betting. And when Google does the same thing only using Google Earth, the internet, any and every device that can be hacked and hooked… and then offers XBox and PS3 people tools to link their consoles into the GoogleNet system, it’ll look even less interesting. And then…

    Ever more inevitable surprises.

    > Sorry. I’m not paying $600 for a ball and chain.

    It’s OK, I’ll get one, csven. Then you can come over and use mine :).

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  20. Heizeus Khan

    That looks stupid. So, instead of Live’s system of being called a faggot by a spoiled 10 year-old over a headseat, I can get called a faggot by a spoiled 10 year-old in 3D!!!

    Nope, still ZERO reason to own a PS3.

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  22. Eric Rice

    Since I’m working an allegorical style of storyline development using social media such as blogging, my experience, regardless of technical limitations du jour, can exist there. I might not be able to technically build a house there, but really: I’ve built a city, and know what it looks like, know what the history of the buildings and the people are. Regardless of media, I can apply principles of meta-guilding across worlds, encouraging fan-fic/RP/ARG participation by splintering Creative Commons on my intellectual property.

    So, I’m happy. That, and it’s such a wonderful validation for the early metaverse adopters. We’re not nutballs. Well some of us are, but hey, we make it work!

  23. Prokofy Neva

    Oh, you caught this a few hours ago, thanks to Victor!

    Well, it looks very much like an SL clone, but it doesn’t seem to have really diggable land and user-made content — that part doesn’t seem to be really confirmed. So I think our SL portfolios are safe for the moment.

    Personally, I remain in LOYAL opposition to King Philip I and continue tp ay homage to Lindenor.

    All Hail the Central Holy Central Asset Server and W’ur’arld Grid!

    P.S. I’m definitely not going to be playing a game with a joystick, no way, and I don’t want to be paying $700 for a game thingie.

  24. Troy McLuhan

    A conversation soon to be heard at Best Buy:

    “Oh! You forgot to get some games for your new PS3… Haha! I’ll hold it here behind the till and you can find some games over there.”

    “I don’t want any games.”

  25. James Breen

    Man I paid out for jap imported PS3 last in jan 07 to england! Stil not out here! And guess what? It’s broken down and the warranty doesn’t cover internationly! DOH! Think i might have to buy one from a superstore and take it back and say it’s not working when it comes out on the 23rd! ;)

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  30. Heizeus Khan

    >A conversation soon to be heard at Best Buy:
    >“Oh! You forgot to get some games for your new PS3… Haha! I’ll hold it here behind the till and you can find some games over there.”
    >“I don’t want any games.”

    It’ll be just like launch day all over again! *snicker*

  31. Nu Wind

    Money = Growth.
    Competition = Growth.
    Evolution is necessary for most if not all technologies.


  32. Aleister Kronos

    I hope Sony make a better fist of this than their Sony BMG site in SL, which is very pretty – but very lonely. On the few occasions I’ve been there it’s been just me and the tumbleweed rolling by.

    Of course, this is likely to be a massive success – so hopefully they have architected it for massive scalability. The uptake curve could be alarming (making SL’s growth look positively pedestrian) and if they’ve not scaled it right we can expect spectacular crashes, lag and all those joyful experiences we see in SL.

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  34. Andy Tir

    hehe, what is for sure – if you think about open sourced client, forget it until Sony decide to deprecate _your_ hardware in their mind ;) Sony has one of worst reputations in area of open-source, and … try to get tech specs on their 3D accels for PS3, you will be amazed about amount of NDAs you msut sign in before you even heard LOL

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  41. marcel dagenais

    it all look nice and dandy,but in all 3d virtual worlds i never seen a 3d chat coming close to activeworlds with over 800 worlds and over 400 million miles of virtual land, can someone use his imagination in sony and being able to build his own land and having his own way to build as he desire? is sony 3d chat allow you only to change furnitures around? can you own your own world? just wanna know =)

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