PlayStation Home was first announced back in March of 2007. It was to be Sony’s answer to Microsoft’s Xbox Live. But instead of shuffling through menu after menu — as was the case with Xbox Live — Sony wanted to create a fully interactive 3D world which players could use as a hub for all of the things that PlayStation 3 had to offer. And unlike Microsoft’s service, PlayStation Home was to be free. Players would create an avatar and, instead of simply clicking on a link in a menu to watch their favorite game or movie trailer, they would actually walk their avatar to Home’s realistic 3D movie theater, sit down, and watch the trailer with others.
Though Home’s development has hit a few snags along the way, last month Sony was able to invite certain PlayStation 3 users into their closed beta and offer a sneak peak into the world of Home. Beta users were able to see a stripped down version of what was to ultimately be released to the public. Players experienced an extremely in depth character creation system, their own apartment to customize, and access to several of Home’s unique areas (i.e. Bowling Alley, Movie Theater and Shopping Mall). Though these features were exciting for fans, they left them clamoring for more! Because players were only allowed limited access to Home, they found more fun in the social networking aspects — dancing with other avatars and conveniently talking with others through Bluetooth headsets.
Which is why today’s historic event is so — well — historic! After over a year and a half, Home is now available to everyone. The Open Beta now allows all PlayStation 3 owners with an internet connection and a PSN ID to access the full Home experience. The Open Beta version of Home offers several new experiences for those who already participated in the Closed Beta. Users now have access to new games such as a Red Bull sponsored flying simulator, and game-specific areas like one of the shanty-towns found in Ubisoft’s Far Cry 2. Players will be able to invite friends and strangers alike into multiplayer games by simply walking up to their avatar and asking. Likewise, if users want to join an online game, all they have to do is find a player with the PS3 controller icon over his or her avatar’s head and ask to join their game.
All in all, PlayStation 3 owners should be excited about this new experience that Sony is giving to it’s users. Unlike their competitor’s services, Home is absolutely free to use — and it’s hard not to be excited about free stuff!