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Sony does Second Life for PS3 March 9, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, electronics, Internet, IT, Japan, technology.
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A welcome bit of positive publicity for Sony, with their announcement of Playstation Home, the 3D virtual world for the PS3 platform having received a warm response in much of the reporting around this new service.

I’m not the best person to ask about this kind of stuff as I much prefer interacting with other people in a real physical environment (preferably with alcoholic drinks in hand), but I think this idea may have legs.

Second Life has been receiving plenty of media coverage here in Japan over the last few months, but the media response is shifting. To begin with it was all about how amazing and revolutionary the concept was (which is pretty amusing for anyone who has been around for a while in the space), but now we are seeing some articles (like this one in Japanese) beginning to question the concept and its viability especially in Japan. (from pretty much the same people who were cheerleading before, lol)

A big problem the media has apparently just noticed is the language issue, and the miniscule number of Japanese language users populating the site. Now there’s a surprise.

More fundamentally, Second Life pretty much requires a decent desktop PC with decent graphics card. The reality of PC sales in Japan is that laptops are much more popular even with regular users, what with us Japanese all living in rabbit hutches and paper houses. Further, the gaming market has been dominated by games consoles, and PC gaming is a much smaller niche market than in the US, which means that high spec desktop machines are just not as popular. The net result is that many users are unable to access Second Life, and such people aren’t going to buy a high spec machine just to get onto Second Life.

The Playstation Home on PS3 eliminates the hardware barrier to entry (ok, you need to buy a PS3….). Consumers (especially the non technical ones who would run away screaming at the prospect of having to know what CPU/GPU/RAM specs are for their PC to ensure Second Life compatibility) are guaranteed that any PS3 (with a decent broadband connection, something which is pretty much ubiquitous here in Japan) will be able to run Playstation Home. PS3 owners have a minimal barrier to entry to Playstation Home, and this is something which cannot be underestimated. The fact that the Home environment will apparently be localised for local tastes (the Japanese version was created by Bandai Networks and is more touchy-feely/”cute” than Second Life, but the graphics will likely be changed for other locales (and perhaps even demographics?))

The games within Playstation Home apparently include things like bowling and billiards. I know that the Wii would have difficulty rendering a 3D landscape at anywhere near the PS3 level, but Wii Sports in a networked Wii virtual world with on-line buddies would be pretty damn cool, I think.

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