Playstation Home and why it COULD be awesome
May 25, 2008 § 3 Comments
I’ll admit at this point that I’m a bit of a PS3 fanboy. Sure, I’ll admit that I value games on all systems and I’ll make it seem as though I don’t really mind when games lose Playstation exclusivity, but at the end of the day, when Devil May Cry 4 was announced as being multi-platform I was out there on the message boards swearing blind that Microsoft had “stolen” an epic Capcom franchise from us.
It therefore brings a tear to my eye whenever I actually try and do anything on the Playstation Network. Why? Because whilst it may be very functional in terms of “add your friends to a list and see what they’re playing,” when you come to actually trying to sit down and play with a friend the bottom falls out and suddenly it dawns on you that maybe those Xbox guys really did have the right idea after all. Before I get tied to the helm of the Cutty Sark by my Playstation brethren I should probably provide an example though non?
Literally everyone and their grandma’s been raving on about the GTA4 online component, and yet playing with strangers (mostly on the PSN without headsets) just doesn’t feel right in terms of the core fun-factor in GTA. Very quickly I was shepherded into playing some online with a dear friend, at which point it dawned on me that hey, this thing is pretty damn awesome. My beef however, lies with the inability of the PS3 to allow you to contact friends in-game. I’m not talking about once you’re in the same online game, but simply when you’re setting things up and inevitably one of you can’t connect, or needs to leave the console briefly to do other things (make a sandwich, rub raw meat all over yourself, you know, standard stuff). The only solution to the problem is to exit the game to send a message to your friend, but even at this point things are made difficult by the inability to read messages from in-game, resulting in multiple messages being sent, each with the one entire message crammed into their subject headers. It really does beg the question: Were Sony really serious about taking on Xbox Live, or is the PSN just another box to tick off on the back of a next generation console?
This brings us nicely to Home which could very much be the solution to all our woes (that is if Sony doesn’t cock it up). Just thinking about the possibilities of it is quite interesting. Firstly it’ll provide an interactive lobby similar to those found in GTA4 and Burnout Paradise for every game. Say you want to meet up with a group of friends and just talk for a while. Sure you can do that. Say you then want to play a game? Apparently you’ll be able to do that too.
Thinking beyond Sony’s marketing plans there’s also interesting possibilities that no one’s touched on yet. Consider this: in a typical web browser setting you have no idea of who’s looking at the same content as you whenever you’re surfing the web. In Home however you’ll be able to not only see who’s viewing those luscious screenshots of Killzone 2, but you’ll also be able to talk with them. In essence it’ll ensure that every website has a forum for discussion. Such a thing will very easily allow you to find people with similar gaming interests as you in one centralised location.
It’s occurred to me at this point that I sound incredibly like a Sony marketing rep which I should really point out is not the case. Home has the potential to be a complete disaster. If it’s laggy, or if getting places is a chore, I can’t see it being anything other than an interesting novelty. However, if they get the technical aspects down, and manage to police it well enough to avoid the inevitable griefers that’ll start popping up all over the place (a la Second Life), it could really be something special.
Until then though we’re (well, not Trollydude at any rate) stuck with somewhat of a second rate online service. Here’s to hoping things can only get better. After all, they fixed the Playstation Store didn’t they?