PlayStation Home and LittleBigPlanet – Sony keynote at GDC introduces ‘Game 3.0’

I know I’m not the first blogger to mention this (even on Eightbar I’ve been beaten. Twice. ) but… Sony’s keynote at the Games Developer Conference was pretty fascinating.

Opening by putting the future of the games industry in the context of Web 2.0,  Sony introduced us to a new Noun X.0, ‘Game 3.0’. Apparently, it’s…

all about the connected device … empowered by audiences and powered by dynamic content, powered by active communities built on open standards”.

Yes. Of course. Sony gets it. I especially the tip of the hat to open standards.

Later summarised as being a “new era of creativity, collaboration, communication and commerce” (4 Cs; I’m a sucker for a memorable soundbite), the biggest and best example given of ‘Game 3.0’ in action was Playstation Home. It’s an avatar-based 3D virtual world. Home is not a product, it’s a free service. In fact, it’s a “3D social networking service”. Home provides the user with a customisable avatar, and a user interface which includes a virtual PSP as part of the controller metaphor.

Each user will have access to both private and public spaces, as well as a personal hall of fame with 3D trophies (optionally involving video).  Communication options include:

  • quick chat (phrase choices)
  • virtual keyboard (on screen keyboard.. “ho”)
  • USB keyboard
  • voice chat
  • animations

All very nice. But where does the content come from then? Well, it’s a combination of premium content, which users will pay for, and free items that will be delivered by game developers, game publishers, and Sony themselves; the personalisation is delivered not through custom, or user generated content, but by provided content which is either purchased or unlocked by buying games.

Despite the heavy Sony influence in the 3D content used in the demonstration (which included dropping a Sony Bravia television down the stairs)…

“Home is not just about Sony brands and Sony games, it is a much wider network of connected spaces. … Individual spaces dedicated to either games publishers or to game developers or to individual titles.”

Just game content then?

Over time this will extend beyond the game arena to include non-game brands as well. So you can imagine a location built around a famous coffee company or a famous drinks company, clothing company, record company, retailer, magazine, you can get the idea as this will build out.”

Right. But how is the content created?

“This is very very simple to build. As game developers, as content creators you can reuse content that you’re designing for your own games. It’s all using Maya. It’s really simple to build the 3D spaces and we will be providing you with the tools and the SDKs to unlock this and to maximise this. Any surface can be tagged as video. Any surface can be powered by HTML pushed from websites, and you can have individual areas dedicated to games. The way you want to design it as developers is entirely up to you.” … “All of these things are really simple really easy really powerful ways to build community and socialisation around your game brands”

I still have this nagging question. What about user generated content? Am I wrong in thinking that part of what makes something like Second Life so popular is the freedom for every user to create anything they want? Sure, they might not all be builders, but Sony: why are you limiting the building to your partners? What about the creativity of the end users?

In the second half of the keynote we are introduced to LittleBigPlanet from Media Molecule (the makers of Rag Doll Kung Fu). I really like this. Seriously fun-looking play, with user content in spades. More words than I can write at videogamesblogger, joystiq, kotaku and more.

Now this is more like it. I’m sure the palette will still be a bit limited, but the community which will no doubt build up around this with users creating cool levels to out-do each other is going to be fun to watch.

17 thoughts on “PlayStation Home and LittleBigPlanet – Sony keynote at GDC introduces ‘Game 3.0’

  1. While Little Big Planet might allow for some user-generated modification/content, I’m hesitant to believe that this will be what most game devs permit in the near future (see Joi Ito’s recent post on “content vs context”). Providing additional content seems to be – based on what I’d discovered about how the MS Marketplace is being used – more of a means for game devs to extract additional “shelf” life and income from their game. It’s not, afaik, the same as people making mods for PC-based games.

    If MS Marketplace *has* opened up then someone please let me know.

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  4. I dont want to get into the PC versus console flame war that ensues, and I really really like what Sony appear to have done both with Home and LBP.
    However, it will depend on how else you can consume the content. The PS3 is a home device (at the moment) wired into your HDTV.
    Just as surfing the TV on the web does not seem to fit most lifestyles does the central device nature of the PS3 mean there is less opportunity for the range of services and concepts that will get a metaverse flavour?
    After all laptops, wireless, coffee shops, work desks are a massive market and what drives the web.
    This is though game 3.0 as they referred to it. so maybe that does not matter.

  5. Roo, I think there’s room for both models. There’s loads of good stuff on YouTube and Flickr, but it doesn’t mean I’d want to get rid of Steven Spielerg and David Bailey. I think there’s still something to said for enforcing somewhere for professional only content.

    I also think that quality 3D content is still a step too far for most users. We get taught to write since we’re five, so it’s not surprising we can also blog. Cameras are easy (and quick) enough to use that anyone can take a reasonable picture of something, so the user generated photo sites work, but this isn’t the case with everything. I can’t spend a day with a piano and come up with something that sounds like Thom Yorke. Neither can I paint to a standard that I’d be happy to share. I think 3D content is still in this league.

    Second Life has probably shown up people who had a natural ability at generating 3D content and never realised it, but I don’t think it’s everyone. That’s not to say someone wont invent some 3D camera, or that kids wont start getting taught 3D modelling from five in the future.

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  8. it will depend on how else you can consume the content. The PS3 is a home device (at the moment) wired into your HDTV ..

  9. Of course Sony being Sony is going to try to shoehorn us into some proprietary technology while their competition (xbox, gamecube) is making it far easier for developers to do cross platform programming.

    they need to open the doors to the developers as well as lower any cost barriers to encourage cottage sofware houses to adopt the platform THEN you will see a turnaround.

    they need the third party!

  10. I really cannot see this proposed 3d social networking technology catching on – especially not on a console platform. Just another gimmick IMHO!


  11. The theory of it sound good but we have to wait to see the real application. I admire sony for trying to be ground breaking. Gaming on another level lets see if it has wings I for one don’t doubt that sony is capable of pulling such lofty idea into a practical and ejoyable reality.

  12. Playstation is the best gaming console that i have owned. Me and my brother are addicted in playing games on Playstation.,.*

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