PlayStation Home has come a long way since details of the social service were merely trickling out when PSLS was only a few scant months old. Ever since Sony opened the floodgates and began the open beta, things have been looking up for the service. But a just-released presser from Sony Computer Entertainment America indicates that the team isn’t intent on just sitting on their laurels while the virtual goods sell like hotcakes, oh no. This is just the start.
For those familiar with the service, you can kiss the Central Plaza goodbye. In its place will be a new connected area dubbed “The Hub.” In an appeal to some users’ complaint that it was difficult to know where to go in the Central Plaza to play some games, popular puzzle game Cogs will be featured front and center in this space. Also brand new to Home will be an “Activity Board,” which grants users access to various quests and community activities, with differing rewards depending on the activity. Custom events can also be created and shared with others to ensure you never run out of things to do by yourself or experience with others. Connected to “The Hub” are four themed districts, each containing related games and challenges that are designed to suit your play style or mood:
- Action District: A gathering place for the hardcore demographic, the Action District has a gritty, urban feel reminiscent of a first-person shooter level and provides a direct travel point to action and horror games.
- Sportswalk: The Sportswalk has an exciting outside-the-stadium feel with instant major league sports scores, headlines and highlights, ample space for sports-themed games and provides direct travel points to sports-related games.
- Adventure District: The Adventure District drops you in a lush island jungle with an air of mystery, hidden treasure and discovery, where players will be able to launch directly into adventure-themed games.
- Pier Park: A waterfront boardwalk leads players to carnival, puzzle, outdoor and arcade games. Take a ride on the Pier Park Ferris wheel or visit the arcade for some bright entertainment.
This major change will not be purely cosmetic, either. A separate, but similarly-timed, update to the PlayStation Home client is also due, which SCEA says will “deliver a more streamlined experience upon login with customized tracks for new, returning and regular PlayStation Home users, minimizing the time it takes for players to get into games.” Also released alongside this announcement were some updated numbers for the service. Over 23 million people have used the service worldwide, and the average session lasts around 70 minutes. SCEA has released a bevy of content thus far thanks to “over 35 partners,” with over 230 full, “ready-to-play” games alongside over 9,000 virtual items, including more than 65 spaces. The community has remained bustling as well, with over 600 community events hosted so far.
We spoke with PlayStation Home Director Jack Buser on Friday regarding this announcement, and had a few minutes for further explanation. Mr. Buser stated that this major overhaul has been in development for quite some time, and is not simply the development team’s ideas made real. They have been listening very closely to user feedback from within Home, and what you see before you today is the culmination of things the community has asked for. One thing the community has shown is that games are the killer app for PlayStation Home, and this update certainly drives that point home. Take a look at a few brand new screenshots below, featuring “The Hub” as well as two of the themed districts – “Action District” and “Pier Park.”