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E3: Sony's Tretton Talks Sony  Home  Vs. Microsoft's Avatars
E3: Sony's Tretton Talks Sony Home Vs. Microsoft's Avatars Exclusive
July 17, 2008 | By Christian Nutt, Staff

July 17, 2008 | By Christian Nutt, Staff
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    11 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



As part of today's Sony roundtable Q&A at E3, SCEA president Jack Tretton has been discussing the state of the Home online world for PlayStation 3, suggesting there was "a lot of learning... and a little naivete" in its construction, but that the "worst thing" Sony could do was look at Microsoft's new Xbox 360 avatars and try to react based on them.

According to Tretton's comments at the roundtable, attended by Gamasutra, the apparent delays to its Home PS3 application are down to complexities that perhaps the company did not full understand up front.

The online world application has been delayed multiple times, most notably from late 2007 to Spring 2008, and still doesn't have a formal release date. Tretton explained:

"Home is not [just] a software title. It needed a lot of hardware engineering support. It didn't get built up beyond what you'd expect from a software title until very recently... there was a lot of learning recently and a little naivete about how we'd build it.

It took us a while to figure out what it was and how you'd build it. I'd rather ship it two years from now and have it be filled with a lot of great stuff than open it up as a ghost town - so I think we've got to do a good job of populating it. The shell is there, but we have to get all the good destinations."


As for further questions on how third-parties such as Ubisoft or Nike would be persuaded to populate Home, Tretton acknowledged: "The cost of entry is enormous for any development decision... the best proof that there is something there with Home is that these guys are there with it."

Finally, when asked about Home as it related to Microsoft's newly announced customizable avatars for Xbox Live, Tretton explained:

"I don't know enough about Microsoft's avatars.... I think we're going in a bit of a different direction with Home.

We made a line in the sand and made a strategic decision on Home and that's where we're going... my understanding is that [Microsoft's avatars are] a more simplified vision.

That may be enough for some and not enough for others. We are who we are... you have to be who you are. You can't backpedal down a road if it doesn't appear it's going to plan.

You have to be aware what's not resounding with people... we've got a plan for PlayStation 3. I think the worst thing we could do is look at the competition and try and do what they're doing."


[UPDATE: Gamasutra now has a full write-up of Tretton's roundtable Q&A, including lots more detail on the state of the PlayStation Portable, the PS3 as a Blu-ray player as opposed to a game console, and much more.]


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Comments


Anonymous
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Wait, you can't backpedal down a road if it doesn't appear it's going to plan? That is a horrible idea in all areas of life and business. I guess if you're dating a girl and it's not going well, tough luck, you have to marry her anyway. If you're going to buy a used car and you find out the engine is halfway rusted through, tough luck, you have to buy it anyway. And if you release a piece of consumer electronics at such a ridiculous price that nobody buys it, you certainly can't get rid of your marketing guy and cut the price. That's just not how things are done.

Etienne Christophe
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Anonymous, you beat me to it.



"You can't backpedal down a road if it doesn't appear it's going to plan"



You can't backpedal *fast enough* down a road if it doesn't appear it's going to plan.



Also, ever hear of plan 'B'? Plan 'B' is very handy...

Anonymous
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I find its interesting how the PSN Video store is essentially the same thing as XBox Live Video Marketplace.

Its pretty blatant that Sony is copying Microsoft's online services. Why would you bother denying it?

Aaron Claussen
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I can understand what previous commentors have said about it never being too late to back pedal in case you've gone down the wrong wrong. By the same token there are situations in which you need to commit yourself to a path and stay committed.



I think Sony is afraid of what people will say or how they will be looked at if they back off from their plans for "Home." Many people already perceive Sony as being behind in this generation of consoles; if Sony stops development of home it may seem to some, including Sony themselves, as admitting to defeat. This may seem silly, but then pride often rears its ugly head in places it might not be prudent.

Anonymous
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I doubt the masses care much about what Sony admits, they care about what Sony offers. If people see stuff they like they'll buy PS3, if not they won't.



Home sounds like a quirky idea that might work. I for one hope they pull it off, and if they need more time then so be it (but then I'm not footing the bills).

Jeremy Alessi
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Years ago Sony had a clear goal. They identified Nintendo and Sega's weaknesses, fixed them and capitalized on the finished product. After 2 generations of leading the pack they got a double shot of humble pie as both Microsoft and Nintendo identified Sony's limitations as the leader and trumped them. That's how competition works. After they get done tumbling in the dust they'll get back up and take another run for the lead position. Hindsight may be 20/20 but foresight when you're behind is priceless.



I wish them luck with Home, it has always been a great concept. Unfortunately, it was also something that Microsoft was always more prepared to do because of their more forward thinking network strategy. All aspects of Sony's networked user experience have lagged behind Microsoft's. If Avatars eclipses Home no one should be surprised.

Tony Dormanesh
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They never had a plan for Home until they saw the success of Xbox Live. He pretty much has to deny they are following Xbox, he works for Sony, right? He'd be fired if he said, "Yea, xbox live is so great we want to copy their model and try to be as good as them."



But as someone stated before, this is how competition works. This is another good argument against the debate of having 1 console. I think Home sounds great, if they can build off Xbox live and create something better, awesome for everyone (Sony and the consumers). Then the ball will be in Microsofts court.

Anonymous
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Tony, Home was in development before XBL had been announced, it started as a PS2 project

Benjamin M
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Anonymous @ 12:21

So, basically you're telling me that Sony's Home project has been a work in progress prior to 2002? You do know that's when Live was introduced, right? The PS2 was released in 1999 and even to this date the PS2's online capabilities suck! XBL debuted in 2002 just one year after the Xbox. So, I doubt the Home project was announced anytime prior to that. Not to mention that XBL didn't just magically appear either. It was announced in advance as well as most upcoming developments are. But, a 9+ year development cycle for Home huh? That's awesome.

Ryan Schaefer
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In all honesty, Home is looking way better than the Avatars. I hate to see companies copying others; I hated it when Sony announced their stupid trophies and I think Microsoft obvious mii knockoffs is equally as stupid. Most 360 owners I know are 20 something males who revel in the carnage of games like Halo and BioShock. The last thing they want is "cute" avatar they can play dressup with. MS really missed their market on this one if you ask me.



Home, on the other hand, IS looking pretty cool. I like the realistic look and the idea of having game themed areas is something surprisingly unique. The problem with Home is that we still have no solid release date; they didn't even MENTION the term during the press conference. That's bad news. Even scarier is the statement, "The shell is there, but we have to get all the good destinations."



With the amount of development time that's been sunk into this project, you'd think they would have more than just a shell. I have been on the fence with the PS3 for a year or so now and the FFXIII announced pushed me a lot more towards the "no" side. However, if Home comes out and is as cool as it looks, I may be persuaded.



Either way, I think Microsoft's silly Avatars have given Sony the chance they needed.

Doug Poston
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I like it when companies copy ideas that work. The idea of a personal Avatar (not just a name and icon) is great. Just because Nintendo did it first shouldn't exclude other companies from jumping on.



The 'rumble' pack was a good idea too...


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