Sony details PS Vita’s online features
Information dropped on Near, Party, LiveArea and Activity.
Sony today revealed a ton of new information regarding Playstation Vita’s various online features, namely Near, Party, LiveArea and Activity.
This is a “location-based gifting system” ala 3DS SpotPass which allows users to drop gifts at various places they happen to be. Near will allow a 100KB gift box per game. It can store multiple gifts but cannot exceed the 100KB data size limit.
“What Near does is it allows users to discover each other, leave gifts for each other and essentially find out more about games. You can see where people are in relation to your location, their five most recently played games and also gifts that they’ve registered. This is fairly cool because it exposes users to games they might not have heard of and you can see how popular those games are and how people are rating them,” explained Sony Europe manager Phil Rogers at the Develop Conference 2011.
“Imagine user A visits locations one to ten through that day, and they get home and sync with the server and it uploads to the Near server your ten locations that you’ve been to.”
“User B comes along, does the same thing, but at some point in User B’s day they passed User A’s location five, which means they’re now able to collect gifts that that user’s dropped. That comes into the Near application and then in-game they pick up those gifts.”
Gifts doesn’t have to be items, it can be challenges as well, said Rogers giving an example of a gift that challenges players to a game of WipEout.
Users will also be given a range of options to customize their gifts, such as the number of times it can picked, availability from their location, time period before it expires, who can access the gift and the probability of finding it.
As the name suggests, the feature allows upto 4 players to team-up, enabling voice chat across games ”platform-wide”.
“You can chat across games through text and voice,” explained Rogers.
“Cross-game voice chat,” he reiterated, “it’s there and it’s on Vita.”
Party also allows a player to join a party member’s game quickly, like in Steam.
“The voice chat part you can override,” he added, “so if in-game you’ve got your own teams for audio then you can override the Party chat and turn that off.”
LiveArea and Activity:
This feature is “where you go to launch your Playstation Vita day”, Rogers said.
LiveArea is divided into three modes: Index, Live and Game. The top area is the content information zone, while the communication zone allows a user to “comment on people’s activities within the game as well as publish your messages”.
“Activity is a way for players to discuss progress,” explained Rogers. “The system automatically puts a few activities in there, such as Trophies and ratings. That encourages people to then comment similar to Facebook style.”
LiveArea can be updated by developers and publishers and be customized for the user. It will also help push DLC easily.
“It’s a good way to push DLC,” said Rogers. “So there’s new levels out, click, go to the Store.” Rogers however warned publishers to “not to spam users too much and to use it sensibly”.
Interestingly, publishers can track Vita owners ”either by GPS on the 3G model or triangulation of mobile phone cells”.
“As well as that we work with Skyhook and they provide wireless access points around to keep a general idea of where you are,” elaborated Rogers. “So even with the Wi-Fi-only SKU you can still have a vague concept of where the user is.”
Playstation Vita will be out sometime next year and will retail for $249.