The Home Environment
When it's finally released, "Home" will be a free service provided by Sony exclusively for PlayStation 3 (PS3) users. It will launch from the game console in much the same way the built-in media player does. Once online, the user will create his avatar and receive a private apartment. For an as-yet-undetermined fee, users can upgrade to luxury apartments based on some of the most sought-after real estate in the real world: a Manhattan penthouse, a traditional Japanese abode, a Swedish lodge and a beach house.
Users will be able to outfit their apartments with a variety of basic choices. Sony will charge for things like designer furniture, art and other décor to make the personal spaces more customizable. Apartments can be further personalized with real-world items like photos and music, which will be displayed in virtual picture frames and played on a virtual jukebox within the apartment.
A "Home" user can invite friends to hang out at his apartment, but the common areas are where people meet. Sony replaced its original common area idea of an expansive lobby with an equally expansive green space. In the common spaces, users can chat, play pool, bowl and hold break-dancing competitions, among other pursuits.
Unlike "Second Life," the "Home" experience will be like a slicker, glossier version of the real world. While avatars may have exaggerated movements, like dancing wildly, it doesn't appear that Sony will allow them to break the physical rules of the real world. This is a big difference between "Home" and "Second Life," which allows avatars to levitate, fly and perform other feats that defy real-world physics. Characters in "Home" appear to have to obey the laws of gravity.
Though characters can't fly, it looks like "Home" will be a nice place for users to hang their virtual hats. But will it cause a "Second Life" collapse once it's released? Read the next page for the answer to that question.