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
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.