Sony has validated the "blackball rumor" with the unveiling of PlayStation Home -- a free to download, virtual world for the PlayStation 3. While earlier murmurings mentioned customizable avatars and achievements, our brief demonstration revealed that to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Comparable to Second Life, PlayStation Home is a virtual community of PS3 owners living together in both public and private environments. Users will be able to login, chat with both text and speech and play casual games together such as pool, bowling and even embedded arcade machines. And when the old stand-bys grow stale, users can invite one another into other PlayStation Network titles outside of PlayStation Home.

Every user will have their own virtual apartment to decorate with furniture, their trophies from various games (see: achievements) and content from their own PS3s. For example, Phil Harrison took a snapshot of us in the crowd, slapped it onto a USB stick and right into a picture frame in his virtual flat. Not content at just images, users will also be allowed to share both music and videos with friends inside their private homes, which will most likely lead to some sort of underground pornography syndicate on the PlayStation Network.

Check out video footage of PlayStation Home after the jump!

And while the download itself is free, users can choose to accentuate their looks with additional clothing for an unspecified fee. The PlayStation Home will also feature dynamic advertising -- the details of which are not currently known. A large scale beta for the service begins this April with the final product to see release this Fall.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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