PS3 'Home' Calls in Late: Sony Delays Virtual World Until Spring

Sony had been actively demonstrating its 3D online user community Home recently, ramping up excitement around a release initially planned for later this year. But Thursday at the Tokyo Game Show, in his first public appearance as CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, Kazuo Hirai announced that "Home" would be delayed until next spring.

Hirai said Sony is waiting until it can offer what would be a "totally satisfying" experience for its customers, and that he'd prefer to see it spend more time in development.

Considering the features Sony has been showing to this point, Home may be no small feat. Its tests by its dedicated global PlayStation Home platform group represent the first ever global beta of Sony social software on a game console, for what could be come the first console-based meta-verse.

"With this system, Home becomes a huge, 3D worldwide PS3 matchmaking system," proclaims the company's official trailer for the product, "infinitely more exciting than anything on other consoles." While "infinitely" is the maximum possible hyperbole, these demos have certainly shown off plenty of new ways to use a console that neither the 360 nor the Wii are attempting.

The general environment of Home is not unlike Second Life, where user-created avatars roam around a spacious world (with plenty of space for advertisements,) personalize their own spaces, and socialize with other users. Gaming, of course, will be a more central feature than in other virtual communities, with unlockable game-related content such as clothing, wallpaper and trophies awarded to players' avatars.

In an industry where delays are commonplace, you'd think this announcement should come as no shock. But for many who eagerly await Home's arrival on their XrossMediaBar and missed the private beta, it could be just one more annoyance.

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