Since the announcement of PlayStation Home at last week's GDC, the gaming world has been literally humming with the ensuing excitement. Of course, they didn't unveil all the details at the time, so it's time to add some more vital information to the project.
As we reported a few days ago, Sony has launched the Home Beta website , and it turns out 15,000 users will get a shot at the Home beta in April. It will run in stages (the first will go through August) and will eventually include 50,000 users. Sony is striving to keep the free service below 500MB, but perhaps that's one of the reasons we have this beta… And to repeat, Home should officially launch in October.
Users who do test things out will find themselves in the Central Lounge; the common starting point for everyone. The Lounge appears to be depicted in the video linked above, and will be able to handle up to 64 users at once. Much like the rooms for online gaming, there will be multiple Lounges on the Network, and you can travel between them to meet gamers from all over the world.
And at some point, Sony plans to make Home available on the PSP as well. The company has remained hell-bent on promoting PS3/PSP connectivity ever since the PS3's launch last year, and that stance continues with Home. However, Sony has admitted that even if it does happen, PSP users will only have limited access to Home.
There is also some news concerning how we'll actually start multiplayer games via Home. As it stands now, you need to hook up with a willing player, then both of you must exit Home and enter the game manually. But Sony says this isn't the final format, as they want the process to be more streamlined in the future. When that happens, Home might even become directly accessible via whatever game you're playing online.
And to clarify one major topic of conversation, primarily from the MMO fans who might consider Home a constant, virtual world: currently, Home is not an on-going, living environment. You can only go into another user's apartment if they're logged in, which makes a logical kind of sense. But Sony is indeed planning to upgrade Home to that seamless, persistent virtual world "in the long-term."
We'll even be able to make money via user-to-user auctions, which may or may not prove problematic (still a cool idea, though). Sony has also said there will be no child avatars (hmm…), and Home will probably be localized and separated into regions. As this new feature continues to expand and grow over the coming months, we'll be bringing you as many updates as possible. Oh yeah, and we'll also try to get into that beta, too.