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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 00:21 GMT
Sony unveils its new 3D universe
Darren Waters
Technology editor, BBC News website, San Francisco

Still from Home
Sony described Home as a 3D social networking service
Sony is hoping to replicate the success of social networks and Second Life with a feature called Home.

Playstation 3 gamers will be able to meet, chat and share content with friends inside a 3D universe.

"It's about community, collaboration and customisation," said Sony's Phil Harrison at the Game Developers Conference, in San Francisco.

Gamers can buy furniture and clothes, while publishers and retailers are also expected to offer 3D spaces.

Mr Harrison said the games industry had to learn from the success of the web 2.0 movement

This is not just about Sony brands and Sony games - it's a much wider network of connected spaces
Phil Harrison, Sony

"We want to start a movement called Game 3.0. It's about emerging entertainment, powered by the audience at the centre of the experience."

Home is similar to Second Life, the popular 3D universe for PCs and Macs. Gamers can create avatars - online versions of themselves - and buy new clothes and create their own homes.

Mr Harrison described Home as a 3D social networking service.

Dynamic advertising - including high definition video - can be pushed into the 3D universe.

The service launches in the autumn and Sony hopes it will answer critics who feel the firm has been overtaken by Microsoft in the online gaming arena.

Image from Home
Home players will be able to buy clothes and furniture

Sony is hoping companies outside of gaming will want their own spaces inside Home.

"This is not just about Sony brands and Sony games - it's a much wider network of connected spaces," said Mr Harrison.

"There will be individual locations dedicated to game publishers, game developers, and titles.

"Over time it will extend to non-game brands."

Mr Harrison also debuted titles for PlayStation 3 at the San Francisco conference that would leverage the success of social networks such as MySpace and FaceBook.

An online version of karaoke title Singstar will let gamers share video clips of their vocal efforts and leave comments for other players.

"The industry is on the threshold of a new era of creativity, collaboration, communication and commerce embedded into an experience to empower games," Mr Harrison said.




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