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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 September 2007, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
2008 debut for PlayStation 3 Home
Screenshot from Home service, Sony
Home lets players create an avatar for the virtual world

Sony is delaying the launch of the Home online world service for its PlayStation 3 console.

Originally slated for an autumn launch, Home is a virtual world in which owners of the PS3 create avatars and socialise with others.

The social networking system is a key plank in Sony's strategy to win customers for its game gadget.

Sony said Home would now be launched early in 2008 but gave no specific date for its release.

Console crowd

Sony said the delay to the Home service was needed to improve the quality of the finished product.

"This is going to be a worldwide service that needs to offer a wide range of functions required in Japan, in the US, in Europe and in Asia," said Kazuo Hirai, Sony Computer Entertainment head, in a speech at the Tokyo Game Show.

Mr Hirai also remained tight-lipped about widely expected price cuts for the PS3 but said it was improving the line-up of software for the console in a bid to attract customers.

With Home, Sony hoped to cash in on the wave of interest in online communities that have made successes of websites such as Second Life, MySpace, Facebook and many others.

Via Home, PS3 owners could socialise with other console gamers and acquire and decorate their own virtual home.

The news is another blow to the fortunes of Sony which, until the launch of the PS3, dominated the console game market.

Now it trails third after Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii. Figures released for US sales by the NPD Group show that in August Nintendo sold 404,000 Wii consoles, Microsoft sold 277,000 Xbox 360s and Sony sold 131,000 PS3s.

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