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Friday, March 09, 2007
Sony Unveils Virtual Universe for PS3

Sony has unveiled plans for its own virtual universe for the PlayStation 3 where users will be able to socialise, shop and even go to the movies -- all without setting foot outside in the real world.

The free service, called "Home", will allow PS3 users to set up an apartment for life-like virtual characters, or avatars, which can invite friends or strangers over, share pictures and videos, and play online games.

Users can personalise their virtual home with furniture, art and other items and chat through audio or video links.

The service -- a kind of MySpace meets Linden Lab's Second Life meets the video-sharing site YouTube -- will become available for PS3 users worldwide in late 2007, Sony announced in a statement available here Thursday.

"This is a significant step forward in the area of user community services and emergent entertainment experiences," said Izumi Kawanishi, head of Sony's software platform division.

"I feel strongly that this unique blend of community, user-generated content, collaboration and commerce will expand the future of computer entertainment," he added.

The announcement has already created a buzz in the gaming community where it is being described as a potential and much-needed boost for Sony after a troubled launch of the latest addition to the popular PlayStation family.

Sony also announced a second virtual world for the PS3 called "LittleBigPlanet" where players can mingle in a blue and green universe.

Sony released the PlayStation 3 last year only in key North American and Asian markets after a delay of about six months due to a glitch with the high-definition DVD player.

Social community websites such as MySpace have exploded in popularity in recent years while the virtual world Second Life has pulled in four million members since it was launched four years ago by San Francisco-based Linden Lab.

Second Life allows "residents" to create and build homes, vehicles, nightclubs, stores, landscapes, clothing and games, and to communicate with instant messaging.

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