Sony opens up on Home

In a note to developers, Sony confirms 15,000-user beta in April, 50,000-user beta in August; company trying to make Home under 500MB.

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Home, sweet Home. That was the reaction from PlayStation 3 owners to Sony's keynote address at GDC 2007, where Phil Harrison unveiled the 3D online community for the PS3.

However, the sampling demonstrated that day didn't include all the hard facts that future Home owners wanted to know. In a document floated out by Sony to developers, some of those missing questions were answered.

First and foremost, the Home closed beta is scheduled to kick off in April with 15,000 users. This first stage of the beta will run through August, at which point it will enter the open beta phase and open up to approximately 50,000 users. The free service, which Sony is trying to get under 500MB in size, is scheduled to go live in October.

The Central Lounge, which is a starting point for virtual meet-and-greets, will have a cap of 64 concurrent users. Like online chat rooms, there will be several active Central Lounges on the network to accommodate users.

Though currently PS3-only, Sony is hoping to expand Home to be accessed by the PlayStation Portable and mobile phones, but admits it will be limited access. Sony did not say what features will be accessible or when other devices could connect to Home.

Currently, meeting someone in Home and then playing a multiplayer game with them requires both parties to exit Home and enter the game manually, but Sony says that eventually, everything will be seamless. Likewise, Home will eventually become accessible directly through a game that is being played.

At the present time, Home is not a persistent world. Gamers can not visit their friends' apartments unless their friends are logged in. "We are working on the persistent aspect of Home, and expect to implement it in the long term," says the note.

Among the other tidbits of information: users will be able to make money through online user-to-user auctions, there will be no child avatars, and lobbies will likely be localized and divided by region.

To see the entire document, download the file (.pdf format).

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