Engadget has a story up on the upcoming Sony Playstation Home service.
Reuters UK article with more specific information on microtransactions and revenue opportunities for Sony
This is a service coming to the Playstation this Fall, BETA testing to start in April. The service will be a free download. Players will find public spaces to meet other Playstation players.
Each player will also have their own private apartment where they can display their virtual trophies and furnish it with their own interior decorating styles. They can also share pictures, videos and audio that is stored on their Playstation.
A virtual arcade will have many playable games. Players can also meet up with other players and virtually enter multiplayer games. There will also be virtual 3D games where you can play others in avatar form. You can chat with others using quick phrases from a controller, or connect up a keyboard.
There will even be a YouTube like service for uploading videos for other players to watch.
And of course, players can invite other avatars to join them in any multiplayer Playstation title that is supported. All of this will be supported by in-world advertising embedded throughout the environment.
At first blush, this does not appear to be a head on competitor for Second Life. I think XBox Live has more to worry about here with providing a rich player experience and brand recognition.
This does not appear to be a fully realized online world, but rather a group of player hubs and private spaces. Not a lot of detail on how you get to your private space, who else can go there, and how you control access. Will you have a room in a virtual apartment complex, or will you teleport to your pad via a transporter? Lots of questions remain.
This is a big announcement for virtual worlds, and another small step towards the 3D web. Consoles like Playstation and XBox have huge user bases that dwarf virtual worlds and MMO’s. These platforms are squarely in the mainstream, and this new service will potentially introduce millions of users to 3D virtual spaces. This can only expand the demographics and potential markets for other virtual world platforms.