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Is PlayStation Home a “Beta” or a “Concept”? |

To me, a “beta” release, is a product that is generally feature complete, almost ready for a final release, but still needs more testing, and still needs a few kinks worked out. Some recent great public betas that fit this definition very well include Google Chrome, Resistance 2 Co-op, and Ubuntu 8.10.

A “concept” is a product that is somewhere in between the brainstorming stage and the finished product stage. It allows developers to preview some promising design ideas that have been fleshed out enough to see but aren’t nearly at a finished state. At auto shows, manufacturers love to show the enthusiasts concept cars that show the general idea of a vehicle before it’s ready for full scale production.

To me, Home is clearly in the “concept” category. Home really hasn’t decided what its purpose is or what its core driving feature set will be. I’ve witnessed a lot of excitement around the whole 3D avatar concept. There is a sense that that style of interface can deliver a level of immersion and of informal social context that users just don’t get on the web. There has also been a strong backlash against this. Interest in Second Life has waned, the product has attracted a lot of cynicism. Google has even completely cancelled their Lively project after a very short and buggy public life span.

It’s fine to offer a concept type product like this to the public, however I think Sony is doing a poor job of setting expectations accordingly. If the PS3 gets a certain level of public attention, that should be spent on the PS3’s more polished and ready for end-user consumption products. It’s criminal that some of the PS3’s amazing exclusive content in 2008 has gotten so little attention, and focus has instead shifted towards negatives like the unfinished state of Home. The PS3 has an amazing lineup of exclusives and non-exclusives, they’ve made some giant changes to the PSN this year (in-game XMB, revamped store interface, video store, better headset, etc), and those should the core points that Sony should focus on communicating.

Maybe next year, we will see some of Home’s potential develop into reality. Maybe Home will overtake E3 as the biggest stage for game announcements and booth-babe-style media circus craziness. Or maybe Home will find some truly intersting ways to harness the imagination of the public that we don’t see on the web. But until then, I’d downplay Home and keep it at the “concept” stage of development.

  • Pc

    It’s still in beta form (open now), to test the loads. They already know what home is going to be used for, and so do i. Home is a virtual xbox live with a lot more opportunities for developers and options for the consumer.

  • John

    Someone entered home for the first time, eh?

    Well, I share your feeling, there is awfully little in there given the long delays and hype, and I just don’t see where it can go… apart from more useless advertising spaces…
    Also there are two basic things that should have been solved long ago IMO:
    – fullscreen support for videos
    – the world is small and simple, yet there are load times everywhere

    I find it disheartening so much time and money was wasted on such a project, there are so many other useful applications that could have been developed for the PS3 (just look at user wish lists), most nowhere as complex (like proper folders for musics & video, spent 15 min yesterday entering album names to serve as folders ersatz…)

  • I sadly agree with John. Home has been a lot of waste of human resources. They cancelled 8 days, and what was that other game… Anyway, they had used them to show the power of PS3 pre-launch, and for sometime after launch, which is quite deceitful. I am bitter.

  • Riggins44

    Home was a waste of R&D dollars IMO. I was on it last night when my wife looked up from her work and said, what is this? It looks boring. That pretty much sums it up. The way that Sony has pushed this machine led to the less than stellar sales numbers. Sony guys like all of us stay with it because it is a great machine, but if you have no history as a PS owner (the people that Sony is not getting) then why would you not buy a Wii or a 360?

    I am really happy with this machine and have loved the last year of gaming. The problem is that people dont know what they are missing.

  • darrin

    “the world is small and simple, yet there are load times everywhere”

    ++. Every shooter on the market has far more complex environments with much less loading. I understand the MMO elements add a major technical dimension, but still.

    On a positive note, when a bunch of people are on, and you have a USB keyboard, it was actually quite a bit of fun just fooling around chatting with people.

    And why can I pick from all kinds of wacky mohawks but I can’t have a plain beard?

  • Pc

    Have any of you actually been on Home yet with a big group of your friends ? I did yesterday for many hours and it wasn’t boring at all! I can definitely see it being boring if you’re just walking around by yourself, but I’ll tell you this, for it being free, it sure as hell beats everything else out there like xbox live! For it still being in beta form, there is lots to do. Sure there could be a lot more to do, and there will be over time. Truthfully though, i don’t think you can complain about a free service that’s not even in its final stages yet.
    As for me, I’m happy to own a PS3 and enjoy free online services like this……