Home + PSU Dead + Mandatory Trophies = Better PSN experience
Something is definitely afoot in the land of the PlayStation network. A series of recent news items announced this week are culminating in what can only be described as a seachange in terms of how you, the user, will be interacting with the PSN from now on.
First up came the news that Home 1.0 was released to the closed beta community with “over a hundred thousand invitations […] sent across the SCEE region and next Thursday the 27th […] another larger batch of invitations will be sent.”
As some of us here at PS3 Attitude are part of this beta we decided not to hark on about it until an official announcement was made. Well, that declaration has now been decreed so we’re more than happy to finally discuss some of the more monumental of enhancements.
So, what’s in Home 1.0? Well, a lot actually but the highlights include: the vPSP has been dropped in favour for a more ergonomic menu structure allowing for the XMB to be now fully accessible from inside Home – a gripe that bugged the hell out of us in the past. More important additions also include the advent of Clubhouses where 32 people can form a cadre of like minded individuals and hang out.
It’s not all good news however. There’s been a lot of rumour in the past about “virtual border control” in Home; the concept that Homers with friends in different regions will not be able to interact in community spaces. Though it appears this topic is constantly in flux (with the possibility of complete freedom of travel still on the agenda for the future) interaction between users from different geographical regions will be confined to personal spaces (apartments) and Clubhouses when Home launches en masse.
And when is this momentous debut? Home’s final Open Beta release date is still a complete mystery but you might remember our previous article regarding when we suspected the collective doors would be thrown open to the public. As is the privilege of all sages and seers we reserve the right to update our predictions at any time so we’re going to do just that and make a revision.
There’s some betting going on behind closed doors here at PS3 Attitude but, for what it’s worth, Home could be with us all as early as December 4th. Take this with a giant tangy grain of salt.
Apart from Home however there have been other movements in the online arena this week. News reached us on Wednesday that the PlayStation Underground movement was being disbanded in favour of merging users’ PSN IDs with their online presence.
It’s no secret that when it comes to features, usability and functionality the XBL experience supersedes our humble PSN on a number of fronts. Not the cost front of course but things like online account management are areas where, traditionally, Sony have fallen down. This recent change which will see us all interact across websites using our PSN details which should narrow the gap between the two rivalry online services even further. This enhancement is well over due in our opinion and we’re looking forward to the plethora of new abilities the merging of online identities will bring.
Finally, VideoGamer exclusively revealed yesterday that, from January onwards, Trophies will be mandatory for all PS3 games. This decision will definitely enhance all our gaming experiences and how we compete and play online.
While this might seem like common sense, some people might be questioning why it has taken so long for Sony to instruct developers that this feature is now compulsory. Don’t forget that it costs money to implement the Trophy system into games, and while studios such as Naughty Dog have come out stating how easy it is to incorporate, it should be noted that Uncharted: Drakes Fortune for instance was designed with Trophies in mindÂ as its Rewards system literally matches the Trophy haul perfectly.
Other developers would have been knee-deep in code when this feature was introduced by Sony and its implementation would have delayed certain games’ development. Considering some of these games would be multi-platform, it would have been commercial suicide to delay the PS3 release of a game just to release with Trophies as a Day One feature. The grace period has now ended however and it appears Sony have given all studios a period of six months to factor Trophies into their games. The “But we’re still in development!” complaint will no longer wash. Gone will be the days of multi-platform games requiring a a trophy patch or any PS3 game* for that matter not offering a Trophy fix.
With this new Trophy commitment, new features becoming available with PSN IDs soon to beÂ a user’s ubiquitous online identifer and Home literally less than a month away (we hope) the PSN looks to finally bridge the difference between itself and its nearest competitor.
Do all these recent online gaming enhancements get you excited to part of the PlayStation community? Or is it too little, too late?
Let us know in the comments.
* We’re not sure if this new rule extends to PSN games but we’ve contacted SCEE and will update this post as soon as they confirm.