GDC 2007 — The Keynote: Sony Gets Its Groove On

Yarg. Such a busy morning after the lackluster start of GDC 2007. Everything was going down this morning. The keynote, meetings, general shenanigans.

I rushed in early to catch demos of products from Emotiv (very cool and full impressions coming soon), AMD and others. Before I get to all of those in forthcoming posts, let me say a few words about the keynote that took place.

Phil Harrison, the President of Sony Worldwide Studios, took the stage this morning at about 10 a.m. amid wide criticism of his company’s latest console offering, the PlayStation 3. There has been quite a few rumors circulating in recent days that Sony would drop bombshell today capable of righting its sinking ship, or at least staving off a total capsize.

What Harrison announced wasn’t quite the explosive announcement I had hoped for, but it wasn’t exactly a dud either. Harrison announced the production of PlayStation Home, a Second Life-like service for the PS3.

The environment is less cutesy and cartoony than the Miis on Nintendo Wii. It is a sort of game in itself that exists as a feature rich 3D environment with intra-personal communications and interaction.

There was a demo of Home that was running off the PlayStation network. It looked good and ran well, if you’re into the whole virtual world thing.

Each player will have customizable apartments and the ability to create personalized avatars and all that noise. Users will be able to obtain special items, like two story apartments, via unspecified in-world activities.

My impression of the service is rather ambivalent. It looked alright and I can see at least some market for such a thing, but I believe this is both too little, too late and more of a novelty than a a corner stone product to buttress a failing Sony console division.

Harrison also stated that an expansive beta program will begin this spring. So if PlayStation Second Life Home is enough to make you want a PS3, you should probably start hording your cash now. At least you shouldn’t have any problem picking one up at a local retailer.