File:Playstationnetwork-1.jpg
Icons of the various PSN features

PlayStation Network is Sony's free online service provided for use with their PlayStation 3 video game console.[1]

It was developed by SCE. Parts of PSN incorporate the Central Station (already working in Europe) and a possible integration with Sony marketplace.

User registration

Registration is performed via the PS3 console. Two types of accounts can be created, master accounts and sub accounts. The master account, as the name suggests, allows full access to all settings including parental control. Sub accounts can subsequently be created with desired restrictions set and monitored by the master account holder.[2]

The console has already launched in Japan and the US. As the European and Australian system launch is not until March 23, 2007, some sites speculated that potential PS3 customers from outside of Japan and the US would be able to pre-register their favorite user names online at the PlayStation Store.[3] This proved to be true, as European gamers are now able to register using their PC, giving the added benefit of being able to quickly pre-register their details and more importantly, secure their chosen username.[4]

Services

On May 15, 2006, at the PlayStation Business Conference, Sony confirmed that they are preparing for an online service tentatively named PlayStation Network Platform with free online play. Sony also announced some new features at their TGS 2006 conference.

Sony has confirmed that Phil Harrison will be showing off new services for the PlayStation 3 at his keynote speech on March 7, 2007, at 18:30 GMT.[5]

The full list of planned services for the PlayStation Network Platform is as follows.[1]

Communication/Community
Account
Commerce

PlayStation Store

File:Psstore.PNG
The PS Store logo and storefront

PlayStation Store is a virtual market that allows game demos, trailers, and games to be purchased on the PlayStation 3. The store can only be accessed via the PlayStation 3 XMB under the "Network" category. A PlayStation Network (PSN) account is required to access the store.

Content

The PlayStation Store contains downloadable content for the PlayStation 3 as well as the PlayStation Portable (PSP), which is regularly updated every Thursday afternoon. This includes:

Currency

The PlayStation Store uses local currency to purchase content. For example, one with a US PSN account would buy content in USD or one in Japan would use Yen, etc. This is unlike the Xbox Live Marketplace, which uses Microsoft Points, or the Wii Shop Channel, which uses Wii Points. Money can be added to the "wallet" via credit card or Playstation Card.

Interface

The store has an interface based on the PlayStation 3's web browser. Which includes a mouse-like cursor and you must "click" on the links to the downloadable content. While the store is in high-definition, you are able to see a top downloads list, and new releases on the right side, which is sometimes replaced with links to feature downloads in the store. You are also able to view 10 links to content in HD. However, in Standard Definition, due to the 4:3 aspect ratio, it is only able to display 3 direct links to downloadable content, and the "new releases/most downloaded games side bar" is missing.

Multitasking

At the present time, it is not possible to browse the XMB, or even the store itself while downloading. It is confirmed, however, downloading while browsing the XMB will be available in the firmware update to the PS3.

PlayStation Card

File:PS-Store-Card.jpg
The PlayStation Card as Shown at E3 2006

This is a pre-paid card to be used with the PlayStation Store to buy content. This card is yet to be released, but was debuted at E3 2006. There is an option in the store to add money to your "wallet" via this card. The release date of this card will be sometime around the end of March 2007.

Criticism

The PlayStation Store has been criticised for the unnecessary number of steps it takes to complete a transaction and the lack of background downloading[6]. However, during a Singstar demonstration,[1] at GDC 07', Phil Harrison said: "-And as you can see, the download is in the background - which is good". This may indicate that background downloading on PSN in general will be possible sometime in the future.

PlayStation Home

File:Ps3 playstationhome logo.jpg
The PlayStation Home logo

PlayStation Home (trademarked as "Home™" ) is a community based service for the PlayStation Network which has been in development since early 2005. Home allows users to create an avatar character for their PlayStation 3 console. This avatar will get their own house, which can be adorned by items players can receive in several achievements. In the future the service will also expand, allowing players to have more sorts of clothing, as well as hold pets. When it is available, Home will be launched via its own category in the XMB between the "Game" and "Network" category. This service will be free of charge. Home was announced on March 7, 2007 [7] Sony is aiming for the initial download to be under 500MB. [8]

Environment and Layout

When first launched, the player first starts out in a main lounge where other people can communicate, and play each other in various mini games in the lounge. From there a person may visit their own apartment or travel around to other places set up on Home. Also people can invite others to their own apartments.

In the world outside of the player's house, players can chat and meet other community-members. This will create a Second Life-like experience, where one can invite their friends, hang out and communicate via voice chat, or normal text chat, listen to music, play a game or exchange content. People who enter each other's "homes" can stream the host's music and videos from their HDD. Videos are viewed via virtual Sony TV's, such as the Bravia. As well, pictures can be viewed via a virtual picture frame.

Every user has a private apartment space that users can modify and change over time. The basic apartment is free and will offer users lots of options for customization and personalization. In the future Sony will provide tools that will enable users to have an even greater ability to create their own Home spaces and content. [8]

The world of PlayStation Home will not only consist of players' houses, but there will also be arcade-games that can be played, as well as games like pool billiards and bowling. Sony will also install cinemas, that allow players to watch and download new content and trailers.

The look of the avatar, decorations, where to travel, settings, etc. can be controlled on a virtual PlayStation Portable.

There will be a Hall of Fame (similar to Xbox Live Acheivments)which will include a Trophy room. The Trophy Room is a Home Space where users are able to display their gaming accomplishments. Players will be able to win Home Trophies when they play games that support the Home Trophy system. Publishers and developers will be able to support Trophies by building them into their games' architecture. [8]


All transactions within PlayStation Home will use the Sony Wallet system within the PSN Store, although ultimately transactions will be possible without leaving Home. [8]

In time Home will play host to many types of events. Bespoke events such as exclusive game previews and developer interviews will be organised by Home and its affiliated content providers. Live events such as sports and concerts may also be broadcast within Home. These will all be prepayed using the Sony Wallet System. [8]

Users will be able to make money in Home by using an auction service that will be implemented which will allow users to sell their Home assets and user-created content to other users. [8]

In a keynote speech by Phil Harrison in 2007 Home was used as an example of a Game 3.0 game.

History

A community-based service has been the subject of speculation since the launch of the PlayStation Network. Sony has expressed interest in such a system, specifically the achievements, for first-party titles, though they never released any specific information regarding it.[9]

PlayStation Home, as a feature, was first mentioned in an interview with NG-Gamer[10], detailed by Kotaku [11], and finally confirmed by NG-Gamer[12]. It was officially announced by Phil Harrison on Wednesday March 7th, 2007, during his keynote speech at the 2007 Game Developers Conference.

Commerce and Content

Although the service itself will be free of charge, content will be available on the PlayStation Store, such as clothes, furniture, and game specific accessories, which can be purchased, but some might be available free of charge. Content can also be unlocked on specific games. Larger apartments can be purchased that come with games such as billiards or a swimming pool.

Release Dates

The Home System is currently in restricted BETA stages and will enter the Closed Beta stage (appx. 15,000 users): April - August 2007, followed by the Open Beta (appx. 50,000 users): August - October and then finally will go live in October. "Home™ Development Q&A" (PDF) (Press release). SCEA. March 7, 2007. Retrieved March 9th, 2007. ((cite press release)): Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

Retailers will have a presence in PSN as they can create their own lobbies and deploy these for commercial operations. [8]

Advertising will be a big part of Home. At first adverts will be fed through the Home advertising servers, but ultimately Sony may allow 3rd parties to integrate their own advertising engines into the service. Dynamic advertising will also be implemented, allowing Sony to direct specific targeted ads at particular users.[8]

Features

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Hirohiko Niizumi, Tor Thorsen (March 15, 2006). "PlayStation Network Platform detailed". GameSpot.
  2. ^ Sony PLAYSTATION®3 System Software Online User's Guide
  3. ^ Three Speech semi-official Sony PLAYSTATION®3 blog site
  4. ^ Sony European Customer Registration
  5. ^ Rob Purchese (March 6, 2007). "GDC 07: Harrison's "big" speech". Eurogamer.
  6. ^ Template:Cite penny arcade
  7. ^ Tor Thorsen (March 7, 2007). "GDC '07 PlayStation Keynote". Gamespot.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h SCEA (March 7, 2007). "Playstation Home" (PDF). Sony.
  9. ^ "No gamerscore, no achievements on PS3". Joystiq. October 23, 2006.
  10. ^ a b c Martijn Müller (March 1, 2007). "PlayStation 3 launch interview". NG-Gamer.
  11. ^ Michael McWhertor. "Rumor: Sony To Unveil PlayStation Home". Kotaku.
  12. ^ Martijn Müller (March 2, 2007). "PSN krijgt PlayStation Home" (in Dutch). NG-Gamer.