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Details from the Japanese Home beta test revealed just as many new questions as it did answers. The application, which is designed as a virtual world to customize and meet mates in, will be released for free, hopefully this summer. The 500MB code will enable you to setup and develop an online world inside a thriving gaming community.

Already games such as Devil May Cry 4 have been released with hundreds of embedded ‘achievements’ which on Home’s release will be converted into trophies, furniture and clothing for your own specific part of Home and avatar. The beta has revealed the flexibility of the software, enabling the 1,500 players who have tested it behind closed doors at Sony to connect with large groups of friends, tour the Home Square environment, moving from disc-based games to watching trailers to playing Home’s free arcade games (which include takes on Chopper Lift, Q-Bert and Super Sprint) all without any trouble. The idea is that eventually, you’ll be able to include similar content in your Home apartment, and invited friends and clan members will be able to sift your media (photos, videos, replays, scores, etc) together while you wait for the party to gather.

When first announced, Sony stated Home wouldn’t be a persistent world - when you leave, your space would close down so friends wouldn’t be able to tour your apartment if you weren’t there. The Japanese beta seems to have thrown this into confusion. Sony is now saying that Home will be a persistent world to such an extent that you will be able to upload media - photos from your holiday, for example, as you take them on your digital camera, in real time.

The big question is how ‘free’ Home will be when it’s released. Extra content will come at a price. Rumors suggest that future demos may come with a charge. The upside is that you should be able to sell content in Home in the same way as EA, Ubisoft and Capcom would do. If you’ve created a level in LittleBigPlanet, perhaps you could charge for it?

Apr 2, 2008

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