PlayStation Home vs Xbox’ Avatars – Fight!

Microsoft E3 2008 press conference (Credit: Engadget/Joystiq)

Microsoft today announced at their E3 press conference that the Xbox 360 software, also called dashboard, will get updated in fall. One of the new features will be an improved Gamercard which, as of now, only includes your photo and some stats about you and your games. This feature will get overhauled in fall by an avatar system which also will make it more prominent in the user interface.

From Engadget/Joystiq coverage:

The new look and feel is more fun, more social, and simpler to use. You’ll have a Gamercard, but there’s also something new… it’ll be more personal with avatars. Express your personality and style, share it with your community and friends. … pants, shirts, hats… everything you need, it’s all here.
Create, share, and have fun with all of your friends… but avatars are just the beginning. The new Xbox is tailored for the living room. Here we are at the community channel — instead of a list of friends, you actually see them. You can chat with or send messages to your friends, but there’s something new: create a Live party, private groups of up to 8 people, always connected and chatting as a party.

From Sony’s Home Beta Trial:

Home is a real-time 3D, networked community that serves as a meeting place for PlayStation 3 users from around the world, where they can interact, communicate, join online games, shop, share content and even build their own personal spaces. Home will be available as a free download from the PlayStation and will launch directly from the PS3 system’s Home Menu.

And to supplement it with some info from Wikipedia:

Home allows users to create an avatar for their PlayStation 3 console. This avatar will get their own virtual apartment space, which can then be adorned with items users can receive in several different ways. In the future the service will also expand, allowing players to have more sorts of clothing or bigger apartments. Sony wants to give people the tools to create their own things, but they also want a safe place for younger users to feel comfortable.

So Second Life gets more competition in the world of consoles. It’ll be interesting to see if Sony finally gets their overdue PS Home service out the door. They have first shown this when? March 2007!? In development since early 2005? To put this in perspective: the delays for Windows Vista were bad, but working on something like this for more than 3, possibly 4 years and not getting it done?

Anyways. It’ll be interesting how the products compare in the end. Quite possibly they’ll be something totally different in the way they present themselves but the basic ideas behind both sound almost identical to me. The goal to connect online players with a better, user-adjustable interface – like an avatar for example – is great and cannot happen soon enough. Finally a better way to use the social elements in gaming.

Watch Major Nelson’s blog for upcoming details about the fall update.

Joystiq reports that Microsoft is “not looking to create a “Home-like” environment for your Avatars”.

(Photos: Credit Engadget/Joystiq)