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Kotaku - Sony - Playstation Home - Blueballs

Submitted by: Evil Light Bulb @ 04:12 PM | Thursday, March 1, 2007 | (url: http://kotaku.com...)

Err, Blackballs. So a rumor is going around that Sony will be unveiling the Playstation Home project at GDC. Playstation Home is reportedly the official Sony online service combining a mii concept, Live achievements, myspace and quite possibly the flying car. Sony tends to set its bar quite high. However, after attempting to confirm or bust the rumor Kotaku received a rather interesting acknowledgment from Sony.

The full articles will be mirrored in the comments section.

03-01-07 - 04:17 PM
The story as first reported.

March 12007
Rumor: Sony To Unveil PlayStation Home

We just received a very interesting tip that, while juicy and quite believable, we're labeling as rumor for now. As you are probably well aware, GDC executive director Jamil Moledina set Sony's Phil Harrison up for the spike yesterday, claiming that PLAYSTATION 3 owners will be "very happy" when Phil's keynote takes place next week.

Could the PlayStation Home, Sony's blending of achievements and Miis be that big surprise?

While the rumor seems to make sense, keep in mind while reading through it that it came from an anonymous source and that the half-dozen development studios we spoke with hadn't heard a thing about it.

Sony, when contacted earlier today, said they do not comment on rumors or speculation.

Playstation Home sounds like it could be an interesting, lo-fi, killer app, as described by our source.

Basically, you get to make an avatar for your console (like a Mii) and this avatar has a room. As you play games and accomplish certain tasks, you will receive items with which to adorn the room that are specific to the game (achievements). The kicker is that this is going to be a new requirement for every PS3 game...

This also sounds kind of like it could fulfill the promise Sony made at last year's GDC keynote to bring social networking to the PS3.

So we move from product based to service based, starting with packaged product augmented by downloadble content. We'll enhance this with social networks, the MySpace experience, this will be a key part of the PlayStation3 going forward. What brings it to life is the voice chat, the text chat, the video, the social features we're building in for the future.

Rooting around some recent (and not so recent) comments from Sony spokespeople, we find some things that might just validate this.

From Phil's recently published DICE interview with Newsweek editor N'Gai Croal comes this tidbit, following a discussion on the "lo-fi" approach Nintendo took with their Mii avatars:

If you are going to have an avatar which is your representative in a virtual world, it has to stand for more of your personality than some 2-D cartoons. So while I think that millions of people would be happy with cartoony looks, the planet at large probably isn't. And it's an experiment that will be played out very soon, actually.

From Dutch gaming site Next Generation Gamer comes this choice quote from an unidentified Sony rep:

We have something big coming up for the PlayStation Network, but I can't say anything about that yet. It has something to do with the Home Button on the SIXAXIS controller, and with the community.

Again, this is rumor. Our source continues to remain anonymous. Sony could be announcing the robust set of social features it has been touting for a long time, ones that go beyond voice and video chat, and tap into the collective and competitive feature sets that helped make both Xbox Live and Animal Crossing a hit with gamers. Michael McWhertor

Brian Crecente contributed to this story.

Sony's response.

March 12007
Sony Blackballs Kotaku

Earlier today we posted a rumor story on the site about a possible announcement of a new technology coming to Sony's Playstation 3.

The Playstation Home, we reported, would be an intriguing blending of the Mii and achievements, allowing gamers to create a virtual world for customized avatars and then decorate that space with items unlocked through game play.

What readers couldn't have known was the great lengths we went to to try and pin down the veracity of the rumor before publishing and, when finally deciding to go live with the rumor, to make sure we put it in the correct context.

In so doing, Sony asked us not to publish the story, first nicely, than not so much. Sony Computer Entertainment of American representatives reminded us that the story was a rumor and then went on to say that publishing it could harm our professional relationship with them.

When I responded that we were going forward with the story and that sometimes news doesn't come from official sources I was told that if we published we would likely be blackballed by the company.

Specifically, they said we would be asked to return our debug PS3, uninvited from all meetings scheduled with Sony at GDC, including one on blogger relations and a one-on-one with Phil Harrison, and that they would no longer deal with us.

Knowing that, we went forward with the story, choosing not to point out the threats.

Shortly after the story ran, and I forwarded it to Dave Karraker, the senior director of corporate communications
for Sony Computer Entertainment of America, to point out we did decide to run it.

Here was his response:

Brian, This is an email I was really hoping I would never have to write, but it is what it is. When I came on board here at Sony, I made every effort to be as inclusive as possible to media and the blogging community in an effort to improve previously damaged relationships. This included getting people access to executives, opening our events to more individuals and personally responding as quickly as possible to inquiries. This was done in good faith with the thought that the people I was working with would operate with the same integrity and courtesy I think I demonstrated when I was a reporter. Basically, I went out on a limb for a lot of people -- people SCEA PR and SCEA management had written off. I caught a lot of flack for it from folks, but I felt strongly it was the right thing to do.

I am very disappointed that after trying to work with you as closely as possible and provide you and your team with access and information, you chose to report on this rumor.... I can't defend outlets that can't work cooperatively with us.

So, it is for this reason, that we will be canceling all further interviews for Kotaku staff at GDC and will be dis-inviting you to our media event next Tuesday. Until we can find a way to work better together, information provided to your site will only be that found in the public forum.

Again, I take absolutely no joy in sending you this note, but given the situation you have put me into, I have no choice.

Dave Karraker
Sr. Director, Corporate Communications
Sony Computer Entertainment America

I obviously took no joy in receiving it, though I do believe it adds to the veracity of our initial rumor report.

As I told Dave Karraker in reply, this only highlights the differences between what PR people do for a living and what journalists do.

Dave, Obviously I disagree with your decision, but it sounds like your mind is made up. I think this only highlights the differences that PR people and journalists have. My interest is not in making sure that Sony has positive news or that the timing of their news is correct, my job only is to inform the readers of news as quickly and accurately as I can. Hopefully, one day this dispute will settle down and you will reopen communication with us. Know this, while I disagree with this decision and think it is a monumental mistake, it will not effect our continuing coverage of Sony and the gaming software and hardware your company makes and supports. Take care, Brian

Sony's decision is disappointing, not because of what it means to Kotaku, but because of what it means to the industry.

All via Kotaku, the Gamer’s Guide
03-01-07 - 04:47 PM
Holy shit this is hilarious.

With regards to rumor a 'room' with all your gaming accomplishments in it sounds pretty fucking cool actually.
03-01-07 - 04:53 PM
It doesn't sound like a bad idea. I see the alternatives finally pushing Microsoft into doing more with the gamer cards and such.
03-01-07 - 05:10 PM
holy fuck what idiots.
03-01-07 - 05:14 PM
Story is beginning to get around.

Playstation Blacklists Kotaku for Responsible Journalism - Gizmodo
Voodoo Extreme: Playstation Home?
Sony blackballs Kotaku for rumor report - Joystiq

It will be interesting to see the 'blogworld' response.

and in what may be a humorous 'twist' an excerpt from an earlier 1up story

Sony: We Need to Be More Open news from 1UP.com

"There is a cultural thing about our approach in Japan that has to change. Our approach in Japan is, "Once it's perfect, we'll share it with everybody else." Whereas I think in order to engender trust in our users, we have to share some things that might be not quite perfect, but are ready to give you an indication of what's coming. So we could say, "You know, we're not sure when it's coming, but we're going to have DVD upscaling on Playstation 3." There you go. There's a scoop for you. In my view, we should have a slide on a Web site, or a blog. We should have [Playstation head of platform development Izumi] Kawanishi blog his road map for the Xross Media Bar for Playstation 3. I think he would probably have the biggest blog after yours in the world."

-Phil Harrison, the company's president of worldwide studios

Sony and Kotaku Make-Up - Kotaku

March 12007
Sony and Kotaku Make-Up

What a hellish day it has been today. Both for Kotaku and I'm sure team Sony.

First to summarize: We posted a rumor after Sony asked us not to and they emailed to say we were no longer welcome at any of their private GDC events and that they would no longer provide us with any information found outside of the public forums.

We posted said e-mail and the Internet imploded.

First, I have to say thank you to all of the websites, newspapers, magazines, people who were so quick to come to our defense and supported our decision to stand by our story.

Second, I want to thank Dave Karraker, head of SCEA PR, who was big enough to call me and talk the whole thing through after this exploded.

He told me his take on the story and his frustrations and I told him mine, in the end we agreed to disagree on some level, but also decided that our readers and gamers in general would be best served if Sony and Kotaku could still play nicely together.

In a nutshell: The story remains up and Sony has re-invited us to the meetings and interviews initially scheduled for the Game Developers Conference.

It's unfortunate that we, not just Kotaku and Sony, but all of us had to go through this, but it's good to see the outcome: We were doing our job and Sony was doing theirs and now we can both continue to do so. Brian Crecente

03-01-07 - 07:30 PM
sounds a lot like the alliwantforxmasisapsp pr failure
03-02-07 - 12:43 PM
playstation home sounds like a cool idea kind of. seems like a mix of microsoft gamercard and the old "crib" in espn nfl 2k5.
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