Sony’s “Home”. Sony’s Imagination. (*Update*}

Posted on Wednesday 7 March 2007

Sony has been getting its head handed to them the last year or so. From rootkits to management shake-ups, it seems every story with “Sony” in the title is bad news. They desperately need something good to happen, especially with PlayStation 3′s unimpressive sales figures. Fortunately, the latest news out of Sony isn’t bad. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound especially good either. From a C|Net article (Link) discussing Sony’s announcement to provide a 3D avatar-based “Home” world for PS3 owners:

While Home has some innovative features–most notably the ability to watch high-definition quality video available through the PS3 network–it’s strongly reminiscent of virtual worlds like Second Life, only deeply scaled back.

A main selling point of Second Life is that users create nearly all the content, with almost no limits, making for an environment that’s almost infinitely extensible. By contrast, Home appears to be a much more controlled space.

Harrison told CNET News.com that while users will be able to design their own clothing and avatars, as well as other content–be it furniture, vehicles or the like–Sony will moderate anything meant for public spaces…

“In Second Life, it’s all about user-created content,” Harrison said. “We’re providing (a lot of content ourselves). You can only do that with a defined platform…We will deliver what users want in an entertaining way.”

That last line tells me Sony has yet to learn from their numerous past mistakes; they sound just as arrogant as when they were hyping their PS3… before Nintendo’s Wii kicked its over-priced butt. If they imagine the future of online worlds is lording over a closed-wall kingdom where commoners seek audience and approval from their overlord, they’re badly out of touch in my opinion.

If I owned Sony stock I’d sell it. Now.

{I posted too quickly. C|Net has added a gallery of images – Link}

{Update: I’ve posted a couple of rather long comments elsewhere and instead of writing another blog entry integrating them and explaining my skepticism, I decided to post them here… without the quote tag.

On Clickable Culture (Link):

As I said “largely” closed. I did read Alice’s piece and watched the video over on 3pointD, so I’m aware as best I currently can be of what I consider to be rather limited user opportunities. With regard to Maya, I don’t think they’re saying *users* will be able to create content in Maya for upload. Here’s what Alice claims he said:

Let’s look at a multibrand publisher. We build these spaces using Maya, and we’ll give you the SDKs to develop to this.

These are easy ways to build socialization around your game brands.

So much for that. Those SDK’s are most likely going to dev teams (the people in the audience); not users. And I can pretty much figure out what’s going to be available through the developers: users will be given simple tools as shown in their demo. They’ll be able to add their own graffiti or make simple game mods using the existing game content… and not much more for most games. I see that stuff in the same light in which I saw Beck’s “user generated” cd art (reLink). For anything more compelling, this line is worth repeating:

This is all extendable through free and premium items added by you, game developers, and ourselves.

That’s exactly the same as what’s going on now afaik. Remember MS Marketplace? Well, unless it’s changed, that thing works the same way. It’s devs that sell additional content; not users. Sometimes devs accept content, but I’ve come across only one and they were still in development and desperate for cheap content. There may be more, but after initial research I was disappointed and stopping looking. I now assume that for most of the rest, the “marketplace” is a members only community where they can extend the life of their product. It’s not a way for their users to add content and participate.

That’s not “user generated” content in the context we often speak of it.

On 3pointD (Link):

After the first reports back in May of 2006, I thought that Nintendo could surprise everyone with the Wii (and said as much), so their success didn’t surprise me; only the speed with which the controller moved to other platforms. However, I’m still unimpressed with Sony’s efforts for the PS3. Sure, the service looks pretty. And it’s free (after you spend $600 for the device). And it ties together some multiplayer games in a compelling manner. But a walled garden is *not* the future afaic, no matter how pretty it is. As others here have said, Sony needs to open things up. I have a hard time believing that issue isn’t a source of friction inside Sony. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the hardware people desperate to move product, recover costs and gain economies of scale going toe-to-toe with the entertainment divisions who want to monitor/limit user-created content, promote their *own* properties inside the “Home” social spaces, and keep competitive references to a minimum. That’s not the 3D internet. It’s a fenced-in amusement park. That’s not good enough imo.

The minute MS provides the same service for the 360, links it to Virtual Earth, the internet and XBox Live, this offering won’t look so great anymore, I’m betting. And when Google does the same thing only using Google Earth, the internet, any and every device that can be hacked and hooked… and then offers XBox and PS3 people tools to link their consoles into the GoogleNet system, it’ll look even less interesting. And then…

Sorry. I’m not paying $600 for a ball and chain.}

  1.  
    3/7/2007 | 11:11 pm
     

    [...] At the Game Developers Conference, Sony game chief Phil Harrison demoed two different games for the Playstation3 that will involve [...]

  2.  
    3/7/2007 | 11:13 pm
     

    […] After many rumours, Sony has launched an online “virtual world” called PlayStation Home to go along with […]

  3.  
    3/8/2007 | 10:02 am
     

    [...] There certainly is a lot cooking right now in the Virtual World space, and yesterday a lot of heads were turned by Sony’s announcement of “Home” for the PS3 (see Wonderland, 3pointD, reBang, CNet, and MTV).  Kaneva (a 3D social space) is in a semi-open beta right now, and everyone is still waiting to get their hands on Areae, PS3 Home, Hipihi, and Outback Online, while trying to see if the open source efforts like VOS and Croquet gain any traction. [...]

  4.  
    3/8/2007 | 4:09 pm
     

    […] After repeated rumours, Sony has launched an online “virtual world” called PlayStation Home, to go along with […]

  5.  
    Josh
    3/8/2007 | 4:55 pm
     

    People love “fenced in amusement parks”

    Or hadn’t you noticed?

  6.  
    3/8/2007 | 5:04 pm
     

    The amusement parks I’ve known have two things generally in common:

    a) for most people, they get old after a while
    b) they have holes in the fence

    People like zoo’s too. Doesn’t mean they want to be trapped inside the cages.

  7.  
    3/8/2007 | 5:34 pm
     

    […] As we know, nation building in a foreign territory has its pitfalls, especially if that territory already has a well-established set of competing factions. But those challenges will not deter […]

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