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Home open beta tomorrow, December 11

James Egan

Sony's virtual world Home for the Playstation 3 will become available tomorrow, December 11. While it's labeled as an Open Beta, users can play around with the basic features and services in Home, free of charge. And of course, Home is a free download as well. While most of us were sound asleep, our friends over at the Joystiq mothership got the full story on Home opening its doors to PS3 users worldwide, early this morning.

What can we expect from Home? Well, Snow Crash it's not, but there will be a fair amount of branded content and activities to start with from the likes of Diesel, Ligne Roset, and Red Bull, to name just a few companies already establishing a presence in Home. Throw game and film companies into the mix, which Sony states is happening, and Home could prove to be interesting. In fact, in the words of Sony Europe's Director of Home, Daniel Hill, "Home will live or die on the strength of its content." Hill was speaking at a media event in London, which Joystiq also covered this morning along with their hands-on with Home.

The monetization of Home -- particularly with all of these companies establishing their virtual presence and marketing campaigns in the space -- is going to be a major aspect of this virtual world. Ars Technica reports on this aspect of Home, stating, "While the service is free, Sony is hoping to profit from microtransactions and marketing. Players can buy new clothing to customize their avatar, new furniture to customize their personal spaces, and even brand new locations for their Homes."

Playstation 3 users, do you feel a console-based virtual world is a major asset to the PS3? Can Home's heavy focus on providing content to its users outweigh that freedom to create that defines a PC virtual world like Second Life?

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