At Wednesday's Game Developers Conference, Sony unveiled Home, an immersive 3D social space created exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Phil Harrison, Sony Computer Entertainment's president of worldwide studios, gave a keynote regarding Home, which is essentially a 3D, avatar-based social environment available to users of the PlayStation 3 network. Home will be available as a public free download this fall, after the large-scale beta in April. Home participants will be able to meet other members, most likely in a main public area known as the "Central Lobby," and communicate through text, audio or video chatting. They will also be able to pipe in, either in public or private theatres, the latest movies or TV shows available through the PS3 network, as well as their own user-created videos. Users will be able to customize their avatars and their small private spaces.
Compared to Second Life, Home appears to be a much more controlled space as Sony will moderate anything meant for public spaces, most likely to ensure that the service remains a family friendly space. But maintaining such control over content creation means devoting large amounts of time and manpower to the vetting process, and that can translate to a significant delay in the approval of content, as well as minimized user creativity. Harrison emphasized the despite some obvious similarities, Home is not a Second Life knockoff: "We've been working on Home for about two-and-a-half years. So we're absolutely aware of other avatar-based (environments), but we're taking a different approach." Although Harisson refused to specify, he said users would be able to create some forms of their own content, they would be able to conduct transactions in exchange for some form of payment and, of course, purchase in-world goods, in-world advertising (Home allows for high-quality, realistic advertising) and business-to-business services like sponsorship opportunities.