News from the video game industry for the week of April 5
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista take a moment to look at some of the notable stories in the world of gaming. This week, Sony says goodbye to the PlayStation Home virtual world, Blizzard starts up the beta for StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, a report claims the original Xbox could have been given away as a free console, and Microsoft is discontinuing the second-generation Kinect for Windows sensor.
Sony's prepares to shut down PlayStation Home in all regions in March 2015
It appears that Japan and Asia regions won't be the only areas losing PlayStation Home next year. Community managers have posted on the PlayStation Home community boards in the North American and European regions, claiming that the service is shutting down on March 31, 2015. The date is the same that was previously announced for the Asia and Japan regions, though at the time Sony specifically denied that any other regions would be shuttered.
Virtual world to close its doors March 2015, service will continue in United States, Europe
Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia announced that it is bringing a close to PlayStation Home in Japan and Asia regions at the end of March 2015. The service was launched as a competitor to Linden Research's Second Life, but was offered for free to any PlayStation 3 owner.
PS3 matches Xbox with group viewing
Sony offered a partial answer to the Xbox 360's group Netflix viewing this weekend by upgrading PlayStation Home to support group viewing through Crackle. Gamers can gather friends in personal and public spaces to watch "hundreds" of movies and TV shows for free. The movies are the same as on the web page and include big-name, if older, movies like Resident Evil and Snatch.
New experience to arrive November 3
Sony is currently preparing to launch a major overhaul to its PlayStation Home 3D social gaming network. The experience will include a list of new free games, including a new first-person shooter, Bootleggers '29, that replicates Prohibition-era shootouts. Users can play as their PlayStation Home avatar and unlock rewards.
Virtual camera allows sharing of PlayStation Home
Sony's DADC Digital Services group has unveiled a virtual camera that "captures" scenes from the PS3's PlayStation Home virtual environment and then share them on YouTube. The LOOT Active Camera works in conjunction with Sony's CrossMediaBar (XMB) Video Editor & Uploader to "record," edit virtual scenes, and then upload them to social networking sites.
PSN Welcome Back greets PS3, PSP gamers before E3
Sony wrapped up its pre-E3 run with word that its Welcome Back program was now live. As promised, PSN members from before the service went down April 20 can choose two PS3 games and two PSP games if they own one or both systems. Both platforms get older but major titles, such as Infamous and Wipeout HD Fury on the PS3 and LittleBigPlanet or Killzone Liberation on the PSP.
Sony to show NASA shuttle launch live in PS Home
Sony on Wednesday broke some ground for PlayStation Home by planning its first live streaming event. The LOOT Sunset Yacht environment will show NASA TV's live feed of the Space Shuttle Discovery's final launch, which is slated for February 24 at 4:50PM Eastern. The PS3's virtual world has supported video in the past, but never from a real-time event.
Sony confirms Home by 2009
Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) has confirmed rumors on Monday that the long-awaited and much-delayed PlayStation Home online social service will launch later this month, albeit in a limited open beta form. While SCEA execs aren't specific about dates or exactly how users will get Home onto their systems, it has been believed a downloadable firmware upgrade and a download of the software itself will represent the delivery method.