Do You Play PlayStation Home?
Today Sony upgraded PlayStation Home — the HD online virtual space where you can interact with other gamers and play casual games — to version 1.5, with some big enhancements. This news got me thinking… What’s the point of PlayStation Home?
As a PS3 owner, I’ve fired up Home a few times and poked around. It’s an interesting place, and I always liked how major PS3 franchise titles like Uncharted had their own levels where you could play mini-games to unlock goodies that your avatar can collect or even wear. I was put off by how most of the collectibles and customizations actually cost real-world money.
As online virtual worlds goes, the graphical quality is very high. The options available for customizing your avatar’s look are impressive, and there’s no shortage of things to do. New spaces are being added all the time — most of them themed around popular games like Little Big Planet or Assassin’s Creed — with stuff to do there. Downloading and exploring these spaces costs nothing, and you’ll always find plenty of other real-world players wandering around, playing mini games, and interacting with one another.
But again, I’m forced to wonder… What’s the point? Most online worlds have missions, rewards, and specific goals to accomplish. Everything in Home is casual and optional. There are no clear goals, just ads for Sony properties everywhere you look — games, movies, TV shows, etc. And at their most basic level, most of the downloadable spaces are little more than interactive ads for PS3 games.
A lot of people use Home and enjoy its casual, breezy atmosphere, but those who like more structure and purpose behind their play time will get bored fast. This has typically been my experience. The technology is impressive, but the experience is hollow.
Do you agree? Disagree? Why?
Sony’s 1.5 upgrade was implemented with the purpose of making higher-quality games possible within Home. Game developers are getting a host of new physics tools, animation tools, enhanced graphics capabilities, and more. Essentially, they hope to provide players with a more robust experience, such as actual first-person shooters and racing games; genres Home has only dabbled with in the past will now become a real option. And as always, Home will remain free-to-play for all PS3 owners.
The question is: will this be enough to bring in hardcore players who have been avoiding Home due to its “casual” nature? Here are some new screens showing off some of what Home is now able to do.