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Sony's alliance with Codename to generate new games for Sony Home virtual world

Sony is announcing a deal with indie video-game label Codename to bring a series of independently developed social video games to the Sony Home virtual world on the PlayStation 3.

Codename will work with indie developers from around the world to create exclusive new titles for Sony’s Home, which has 14 million registered users. It’s part of Sony’s multi-year effort to turn its virtual world for gamers into a social gaming hub.

“With this announcement, we’re excited that PlayStation Home is becoming a real opportunity for indie developers who might not otherwise get their games in front of a larger audience,” said Jack Buser (pictured below), head of Home in North America.

So far, it’s going well, said Buser. In the first quarter, Sony’s revenues for Home were up three-fold from a year earlier. And for games such as Sodium, launched last fall in Home, as many as 25 percent of the players who try it are spending money. For instance, players can buy special boots in Sodium that allow them to stomp on scorpions without being stung, thereby alllowing them to earn more points in the game.

The games will be made by a mix of fan favorite, die-hard experimental, and undiscovered first-time developers. The games will let users share experiences, interact and communicate with friends across the virtual spaces of Home, which has malls, places for fans of specific games, and common areas. Home, launched in December, 2008, is Sony’s main effort to embrace free-to-play games with virtual goods business models. To date, Sony’s Home customers are hardcore gamers who spend more money on games, movies, and music than most players.

“It’s a fantastic business model for us,” Buser said.

In the coming months, Codename will introduce the following games: Dueling Gentlemen, a strategy game created by Odd Gentleman and played on a stage in Home’s central plaza; Minor Battle, a capture-the-flag style platform game, where two teams run around a cube of four screens, created by Peanut Gallery; Super Awesome Mountain RPG, a mix of tabletop board and fantasy role-playing games, where players ascend a fantasy mountain in Home’s central plaza using a custom-animated figurine, created by Codename; and Cogs in 3D multiplayer, a multiplayer version of Lazy8’s Steampunk-style game to be played in Home’s central plaza (pictured at top).

Sony’s Home resembles Linden Lab’s Second Life virtual world and is a unique place for console gamers; neither Microsoft nor Nintendo have such an elaborate virtual world on their consoles. Today, Sony has more than 100 games embedded within Home, more than 50 public and private places, and more than 5,600 virtual items to collect. It also has virtual storefronts from LucasArts, Lockwood, Loot, Activision Blizzard and Disney. More than 400 community events have been held since Home launched.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with PlayStation Home to create and develop games that step outside the parameters of traditional game development, and we’re really looking forward to the creative opportunities that lie ahead,” said founding Codename partner Jesse Vigil.


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