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For some it was a place to meet new online friends. For others, it was a place to play goofy games and take part in impromptu dance parties. For still others, it was simply a weird icon on their PlayStation 3’s menu that they never bothered to click on. PlayStation Home was an intriguing social and marketing experiment on Sony’s part and, as of today, its doors are closed for good.
A Second Life-esque virtual space for the PS3 where people could interact, play games and dive into all sorts of other oddball pieces of content, PlayStation Home officially launched back in 2008. The service underwent multiple iterations and a major relaunch in 2011, with loads of content being added on a regular basis.
If you never took the time to experience Home firsthand, I wouldn’t blame you for writing it off as a silly distraction from Call of Duty, Madden or whatever. But I actually spent quite a bit of time in Home during that first handful of years, making some fond memories and having lots of fun in the process.
Back when Home first launched, there was little to do save play some virtual arcade games, pool or bowl. You could customize your avatar, redecorate your personal space or join a bunch of randos on the virtual dancefloor. Still, it gave folks a chance to mingle and have some harmless fun, and I’m honestly a little sad to see it go.
As Home grew, more and more new experiences got poured onto the service. A virtual mall was added where you could buy more outfits and decorations for your virtual space. Eventually, you could also buy additional virtual spaces, choosing to live in a magical tree fort or the actual Bat Cave.
Contests and activities were held, a theater opened up where you could watch trailers, TV shows and the occasional movie with a virtual audience, and lots and lots of themed spaces got bolted on. EA Sports had an arena where you could drive karts or play poker. Siren had a space where you had to survive a haunted hospital. You could play mancala in the Far Cry 2 space or jump straight into exclusive games that included a remix of the Buzz trivia game, first-person shooters, mini-golf and more. Resident Evil had its own space, as well as Uncharted 2, MotorStorm, Resistance, Socom and all sorts of other games.
A lot of the Home games were simplistic and a bit clunky, but some of them were actually quite good and easy to lose hours of your free time in. There was even a Sci-Fi MMO of sorts within Home itself, as well as an altered reality game called Xi that had folks from all over the world working together to unravel a massive intricate mystery. Taking part in Xi is easily one of my best memories of the PS3 era.
In short, Home was pretty rad. There was a boatload of free content to dive into and, hey, who doesn’t like chatting with fellow gamers and goofing off in silly games from time to time? I don’t think it ever quite caught on the way Sony had hoped, but going strong for half a decade and drawing in thousands of visitors on a regular basis shouldn’t simply be written off, either.
So here’s to you, PlayStation Home. In a way, you lived up to your namesake for quite a few of us over the years, and you’ll be missed.