Sony has announced that the full open beta of online community PlayStation Home will be available worldwide on December 11. After ongoing closed beta programs, the initial public version of the service will be available as a free download starting tomorrow.
After considerable delays, the launch will allow all PlayStation 3 owners to experience the virtual 3D space by creating their own unique avatars, chatting with other users, playing mini-games and viewing streaming media.
Users will also be able to create their own communities by using the "Club 2" feature to create individual clubs for specific interests. To do so each "Clubhouse owner" will be required to pay an unspecified fee.
The service will launch directly from the PlayStation Home icon of the PlayStation Network column of the XMB (XrossMediaBar). Once in the Home environment, groups of users will be able to launch directly into online games.
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe already offer themed environments for specific games, beginning with Ubisoft's Far Cry 2
. Similar spaces for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
are expected in the near future. Third party publishers such as EA, Midway, Sega and Atari have also expressed interest in similar promotions.
Energy drink company Red Bull was announced
as the first non-games sponsor earlier in the month, with fashion label Diesel and furniture designer Ligne Roset also set to offer virtual clothing and items for download. Paramount Picture, Hexus TV and Eurogamer will offer video content.
"PlayStation Home is truly a promising network community service on the PlayStation platform, made possible with the powerful combination of PS3's overwhelming computational power and PlayStation Network that covers many countries around the globe," said Sony Computer Entertainment president and group CEO Kaz Hirai.