>Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine

>The small part of my soul that is not yet tainted by cynicism is somewhat a-flutter this morning, now that I’ve read this official PSBlog post revealing the launch of an ARG for Home.

Of course, the problem here is that the most successful and engaging ARGs don’t come right out and tell you that they’re ARGs; the idea is that you discover them without knowing you’re looking for them. I’ve only really been invested in 2 of them, but they’re the ones you’ve heard of: the A.I. game, and the I Love Bees game; both times I happened to stumble across them, and both times I got totally sucked in, even if I didn’t actually go out and do any field work. It’s true that I knew that it was just advertising, but it was advertising that was actually more interesting than the product it was selling. (Did I just say that I Love Bees was more absorbing than Halo 2?)

The other problem, of course, is that I haven’t used Home – or, indeed, even thought about it – since my initial, less than thrilling experience with the beta a bazillion years ago.

But here’s the thing – if I were using Home, and I happened to stumble across this strange grafitti, and then crazy things started happening, I’d totally love it.

I might just fire up the ol’ PS3 tonight and check it out. I just hope I don’t end up totally hating myself as a result.

>Just Because It’s Free Doesn’t Mean It Can’t Suck

>Penny Arcade’s Tycho says all that needs to be said about Home.

There’s one line in particular that really stands out:

There is already a growing school of Home apologetics, fostered by the same Order of Perpetual Masochists who lauded the rumble-free Sixaxis at launch and suggested, hilariously, that Lair and Heavenly Sword were videogames. They’re under the impression that because something is free, this places it on some golden dais beyond censure. It’s no virtue to give away something that no-one in their right mind would buy. They have no idea what this world is for, and that ambiguity infuses every simulated millimeter of it. (emphasis added)

There were similar debates going on over all over the place; I saw it first-hand in the comments to Giant Bomb’s article about Home’s impending release earlier this week, at least when I first went over there to check on what people were saying. Tons of fanboys were running to Home’s defense without having actually used it, and when people who had used it (like me) said that it’s pointless, they inevitably retorted “But it’s free! How can you complain about freebies that you never have to use?”

It’s very simple, actually. Home sucks. And I’m never going to use it. And the reason why I’m complaining about it is that I’d very much like to use my PS3 for something other than watching BluRays, and I was hoping that Home would be something cool and useful and offer an invaluable and unique experience that would enhance my enjoyment of both the Playstation and the games I play on it. Sony has been struggling in 3rd place for this entire generation and I’m sure many people were looking to Home as the thing that would help differentiate the PS3 from the 360. I guess, in a way, it has – it’s proven that Sony has absolutely no idea what they’re doing.


>If this Gamepolitics article is to be believed, Sony is officially releasing Home tomorrow. Sony previously had been rolling it out in larger and larger numbers, similar to what Microsoft did with the NXE; I somehow got into the beta a few weeks ago.

I’ve maybe checked it out once or twice since I initially installed it, and the experience hasn’t gotten better. It’s still unclear to me what exactly the experience is supposed to be. When I see Sony’s press releases, describing it as…

…a ground-breaking 3D social gaming community available on PS3 that allows users to interact, communicate and share gaming experiences…

…well, I guess that sounds interesting in theory, but in actual practice it’s useless. It’s certainly useless without a headset; the canned responses are not particularly robust, and that assumes that you’re interested in participating in a chat room with a bunch of teenagers. Maybe it’s better with the chatpad thing that’s coming out soon, but that’s not even the point. There’s no real need for a 3D social gaming community; it serves no practical purpose. The gaming community is a robust and diverse many-sided thing but the side that most people end up witnessing, whether in forums or in multiplayer matches, thrives on anonymity and calling each other assholes. You can’t get into virtual fistfights in Home, and you certainly can’t pwn someone in Home because there’s nothing to play other than a few crappy minigames that start to get boring about 20 seconds in.

You can look at advertising, though. And what the press release doesn’t tell you is that Home is slathered in advertising. There are game posters and game trailers all over the place, and I’m sure that non-game-specific branding will soon follow, if it’s not already there. Maybe you can buy a Mountain Dew T-shirt for your virtual dude and then meet up with your similarly-attired “friends” by the bowling alley and watch a trailer for SOCOM. Boy, that sounds like a great time. Meanwhile, I’ll be getting on with the rest of my life.

>Can’t Talk About It


Heard on Major Nelson’s podcast a couple weeks ago that Microsoft would be pre-releasing the New Xbox Experience to a small percentage of the respondents of a specific survey. For some reason, I was utterly convinced that I would be one of those lucky people, and was actually a bit crushed when I wasn’t. A week or so later, they gave out even more pre-release NXEs, and I again missed the cut. The NXE officially launches in 7 days, though, so I guess I can wait another week. I’m not sure why I was getting so bent out of shape over it, though.

On the other hand, I got an e-mail from __________ last night, telling me that because I’d downloaded the free __________ PS3 dashboard theme about 3 or 4 months ago, I was now eligible to participate in that beta program.

Maybe my luck was starting to turn around, after all. Maybe I’d finally be able to talk about something substantive and new here instead of just listing all the games I play.

Except, according to the beta EULA, I’m not sure if I can talk about it… here.

1. As a condition of your participation in the Trials, you must:

a. keep the contents of the Trials, including any information, software and service in connection with ___________, confidential as between you and us and not discuss any portion of the Trials with anyone beyond your close friends and family and other Trialists. You shall not discuss or disclose any portion of the Trials with any third party who is a competitor of ___________ or is linked to any news, press or information service (whether on television or radio, in newspaper or magazines or via the Internet or any other online medium) without the express, prior, written consent of ___________.

See, the phrase “anyone beyond your close friends and family” is what’s tricky, here, because I’m not sure anybody reads this blog besides people who actually know who I am. But the internet is the internet, and I’m pretty sure this blog is Google-able, and I don’t feel like getting sued.

Understand, it’s not even like I have that much to say about it. The truth is, there’s really not very much to talk about.

Consider me even more skeptical than I already was.

Keeping my fingers crossed, though.

So there.

%d bloggers like this: